Service tax must be abolished

I appeal to Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to abolish service tax in the ensuing Union Budget. The government claims that it is a “friendly tax”. But it is very “unfriendly”. It adversely affects the common man and deserves to be abolished. Introduced under the Finance Act, 1994, it initially covered only three services. Now it covers 58 services.

Service tax is not restricted to “luxurious” services. It also covers essential services provided by the courier, dry cleaner, tutor, cab operator, photographer, insurance agent, television cable operator, Mandap keeper, cyber café operator and any repair job operator like electrician, plumber etc. For telephone service also, you have to pay service tax of 8 per cent. Since it covers all essential activities, it affects the common man. Service provider has to deposit the tax with the government. The former collects service tax in addition to the cost of service from the customer. Thus, ultimately, the customer suffers.

To increase government revenue, there is need for proper implementation of the existing tax laws pertaining to the Income-tax, Central Excise and Customs, for curbing wasteful government expenditure as also for fiscal discipline and not for taxes like service tax. Besides, since all service providers are covered by the Income-tax, there is no need for service tax.

The late American President Ronald Reagan used to say, “Government is a problem; not a solution.” Dr Manmohan Singh’s government should abolish service tax and prove his statement wrong.

J.G. Arora, Mumbai




On the eve of the presentation of the Union Budget this week, may I, as an Army officer’s wife, express my expectations from Finance Minister P. Chidambaram? First, he should enable each army family to maintain the standard of living commensurate to the husband's rank. At present it is difficult. This is mainly because of high taxes and modest pay. An Army officer is the most honest taxpayer in the country. Out of 12 months pay, he gives back approximately two months pay as Income-tax, deducted at source. I request Mr Chidambaram to reduce the IT charged from the defence officers. They are honest soldiers, guarding our borders, and only depend on their hard-earned pay.

Secondly, it is high time the pay of defence personnel was revised. Otherwise, defence forces, will continue to slide down the ladder of career options by the youth. This we should never allow to happen when the defence forces are the finest organisation and most noble profession.

Retired service personnel are as much a part of the defence fraternity. Nearly 50 per cent of serving personnel have their fathers, brothers and kin sitting back home after giving the best years of their life to the nation. The morale of serving soldiers is also affected by their well being. The budget should also cater for them by improving their pension and scope for post-retirement jobs.

MADHU R.D. SINGH, Ambala Cantt

Of ‘tainted’ ministers

EVEN as the first day of the Budget session of Parliament was adjourned following the NDA’s protest over the issue of “tainted ministers”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come out with a strange thesis. He said that since tainted ministers had been in the previous governments, there is no question of dropping tainted ministers from his Council of Ministers.

Clearly, this is not the response we expected from a person like Dr Manmohan Singh. He is a clean man. As he is a man of high integrity and character, he is expected to work with clean people so that he can keep his administration clean.

Actually, the question of cleansing the system of tainted politicians should have started at the time of elections itself. On their part, the people should not have voted for tainted candidates. The people are the real masters of the country and had they utilised their wisdom while exercising their franchise, Dr Manmohan Singh would have been saved from the present embarrassment.



Transfer policy

I appreciate the editorial “Transfer without pain” (July 2). The editorials in The Tribune try to highlight and mitigate the problems of the common man to some extent but much is needed to be done. Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh has introduced a new transfer policy for Kendriya Vidyalaya School teachers. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, being busy with the Union Budget at present, may review the transfer policy for the staff of nationalised banks.

Similarly, there is also the problem of staff shortage in banks like State Bank of India. Surplus and shortage of staff could not be adjusted. After surprise visits by top officials, action should be taken to safeguard the interest of the employees working in rural branches who have been trying for transfer to places of their choice.

SOHAN LAL, Jalandhar City

Farmers’ woes

The Aadhtiya or commission agent system of agricultural marketing is the major cause of putting farmers into a depth trap. United States Ambassador to India Mulford, during a visit to Chandigarh, described this system as the most profitable in the world. The commission agents make profit at the cost of the farmer. They even sell insecticides, pesticides, etc., to the farmers at high rates and further charge interest on such sales as the farmers cannot pay in cash.

The governments — at the Centre and in the states — should ensure that there are no middlemen between the producer and the consumer. It should evolve a new system to establish a direct link between the farmer and the consumer.

VINAY KUMAR, Devi Lal Vidyapeeth, Sirsa

Wrong abbreviation

In the news-item “Bitumen scam” (June 30), the abbreviation ‘PWD’ has been reported as “Public Welfare Department”. This is not correct. PWD is an abbreviated form of Public Works Department. In Punjab, PWD comprises various branches such as Irrigation, Building and Roads, Public Health and so on. There is a similar department under the Government of India called the CPWD.


Duly recognised

Apropos of the new-item “Private dental institutions in Himachal Pradesh” (June 30), MN DAV Dental College, Tatul (Solan), is duly recognised by both the Union Ministry of Health and the Dental Council of India.

Maj-Gen P.N.AWASTHI (retd), Principal, MN DAV Dental College, Tatul (Solan)

No power and water

While the Central Ministers are camping in the comforts of New Delhi, the entire Punjab state has been reeling under unprecedented power cuts and water shortage. The government has been issuing statements almost everyday only to pacify the public. It is just like Nero enjoying the music when Rome was burning.

M.P.S. RANDHAWA, Dhapai (Kapurthala)

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