As part of resource mobilisation, cash-strapped Punjab government may soon come out with an one-time settlement scheme for tax offenders.
On the possibility of imposition of any new taxes, the chief minister (CM) Captain Amarinder Singh clarified that the state government was trying to mobilise additional financial resources to narrow the widening budget deficit and the finance minister was working in this direction.
The state finance minister, Manpreet Singh Badal said with the roll-out of the goods and services tax (GST), there is hardly any room for the state government to levy fresh taxes, but the Punjab government is looking at getting pending taxes settled with industrialists and domestic consumers.
"The rice-shelling industry alone owes about Rs 1,500 Crore to the government for the past 10 years. Likewise, huge sums of taxes remain unpaid to various departments including revenue, power, local bodies and water. House tax and some value added tax receipts are also pending. For all such pending tax payments, we may come up with one-time settlement scheme," Badal said.
He said all the concerned departments have been directed to ponder over the issue and a decision in the matter was likely soon. "This the government can get about Rs 2,500 Crore. With this, Punjab can start as a clean (from dues) state and citizens will also be free from litigations (filed over the tax bill)," the minister said.
He said as part of resource mobilisation, the government is also looking at restructuring some government departments.
Badal said the government is also aiming at revival of Punjab industry. "If are able to revive Punjab industries, they can invest Rs 50,000 to Rs Rs 70,000 Crore in the state," the minister said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had on Saturday criticised the Congress government's reported move to levy fresh taxes to settle outstanding loans and mop up more revenue for the state exchequer.
AAP legislator and state co-president Aman Arora said it was as reckless and absolutely anti people step. "People of Punjab comprising of all sections of the society that include farmers, traders, professionals, employees, poor and those from the unorganized sector continue struggle hard to make both ends meet due to the steep price rise of the essential commodities," he said.