VAT: Punjab should learn from Haryana

The Haryana VAT Act should be emulated by all other states, especially Punjab. True, Punjab and Haryana stand almost on an equal footing in VAT collection from the organised and unorganised business sectors. But if Haryana achieves higher revenue collection year after year vis-a-vis Punjab, the reasons are not far to seek.

In April 1995, Haryana abolished all the check posts and barriers on its state borders, unmindful of the fears of a sharp decline in revenue earnings. The figures of subsequent years belied the critics’ fears. Dealers of the neighbouring states doing business with their counterparts in Punjab now feel that the barriers in Punjab have virtually become dens of corruption where tax evaders are protected and offenders of the law are made to pay hefty penalties for minor lapses.

In July 2000, Haryana checked corruption and plugged tax evasion when it introduced two new documents — ST 38 inward and ST 38 outward — which were required to be carried compulsorily by the drivers, besides other documents, with all commercial goods, exceeding Rs 25,000 (raised from the earlier Rs 10,000) in value during intra- and inter-state movement. In the absence of check posts, this system has been working well.

One reason for better compliance and higher VAT earnings in Haryana is that its Act is simple, specific and well balanced as against Punjab’s. It has set norms and procedures and specific timeframes for performing statutory obligations by both dealers and tax authorities. Nearly 90 per cent cases are now disposed of by way of “deemed assessment” on the basis of quarterly returns filed by the dealers.

N. L. BANGA, Gurgaon

Children’s Day

Can we celebrate Children’s Day a little differently on November 14? How? By being children ourselves. Let’s get out of our masks on this day, and behave as childlike as possible with no airs or crookedness.

On this day, let’s reach out to children and try to understand their feelings and emotions. Let’s dance and play with them, letting go of our ego and selfishness. Let’s laugh loud with them, not only releasing our tensions but also letting them feel that we have time for them.

And for a change, let’s give no sermons to children on this day. It’s a day to learn from them — the joy of being innocent.

Col R.D. SINGH, Commandant 213 Transit Camp, Jammu

Relaxing building bylaws

The prices of real estate all over Punjab, particularly in Mohali, have sky-rocketed. Land for new houses is shrinking. Purchase of land for house construction is getting out of the reach of the common man.

The size of the family, with the passage of time, is bound to increase. The house owner, to meet the growing need of a residence, manages to adjust the family within the given accommodation either by making internal changes or building up rooms in the open space in the house. It is a common scenario in Chandigarh and Mohali.

The Chandigarh Administration, having taken an objective view of the ground reality, has relaxed the building bylaws to meet the basic needs of the residents. An additional 150 sq ft of space in the rear courtyard of marla houses had been allowed to be brought into use as a room, bath, toilet, etc, according to the needs of the house owner.

It is, of course, subject to certain restrictions and the payment of a compounding fee. The architectural design has been relaxed making it optional. The authorities at Mohali should make people-friendly amendments in the building bylaws on similar lines.

R.K. GUPTA, Advocate, Mohali


For public good

It was interesting to read that Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani has become the world’s richest man surpassing Bill Gates of the US and Mexican Carlos Helu. Ambani’s net worth has risen to US $ 63.2 billion after Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex closed at around 20,000 last week.

It is great that a country that was perceived as being poor, and which lived on grants of wheat under PL480 from the US four decades ago has enabled one of its industrialists to scale dizzy heights. Hope Mukesh Ambani will use his wealth for public good.

In Kenya, some years ago, the world had seen the father of Bill Gates who, along with former US President Jimmy Carter, toured the slums and poverty-stricken areas, with a view to evolving ideas to fight AIDS. Gates was funding the entire project. Now it is Ambani’s turn to say what he intends to do with his wealth.


Energy security

The editorial, “Deal in coma” (Oct 17) rightly suggested that India will have to explore alternatives for meeting its increasing energy requirement. For nuclear power, long term energy security of the country depends upon utilising the vast thorium reserves in India through the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC).

Instead of relying upon foreign sources, the Centre should give all-out budgetary support to the NPC and the UCIL so that the NPC’s indigenous Stage III nuclear power programme can be speeded up. The spent fuel from the existing nuclear reactors would be used in the Stage II fast breeder reactors and the fuel output of the Stage II fast breeder reactors would be used in the Stage III thorium fuelled reactors which would provide long term energy security to the country.

The NPC had a target of achieving 9,335 MW by the end of XI Plan and reach 20,000 MW by 2020. It must be strengthened for accelerated growth to meet the country’s indigenous energy need.

V.K. GUPTA, Kurukshetra


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