M A I N   N E W S

Poor to groan under VAT
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
A factory or farm worker, a daily wager or a rickshaw-puller in Punjab will pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on most all items he buys.

Living in either a rented room or his own “kucha house”, he will now be required to pay 4 per cent VAT for ash bricks or refractory bricks or earthen tiles and on lime and lime stone for white washing a new structure. For cooking, he uses a kerosene stove and aluminium kitchenware.

He will be paying 4 per cent VAT on kerosene, aluminium kitchenware, atta, rice, pulses, spices, edible oils, gur or rub gur. And in summer, he pays 4 per cent VAT on ice. And to get water, he gets together with his neighbours to get a handpump installed in the colony. They have to shell out 4 per cent VAT for it collectively. Even for hawai chappals or plastic footwear he has to pay 4 per cent VAT.

To light his one-room house at night, he uses hurricane lamp. For which again he has to pay 4 per cent tax. From a safety matchbox to imitation jewellery he has to pay 4 per cent VAT.

For a bicycle, its spares and rickshaw and its spares, he has to pay 4 per cent VAT. Even on an umbrella he has to pay 4 per cent VAT. Now take the case of a family which can afford books, periodicals and journals, bread, curd, lassi or fresh milk, fresh vegetables and fruit for breakfast, use garlic and ginger in meals and consume fish, meat and prawn in their lunch or dinner, sugar and khandsari for morning and evening tea with sweetmeats. For all these items, it does not have to pay any VAT. To cap it all, those consuming tobacco have been left out of the VAT net.

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