Measures to streamline tax collection

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac replying to debate on Appropriation Bill on ThursdayThiruvananthapuram: Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac told the Assembly on Thursday that the government would be taking a number of measures to improve tax collection.

Replying to the debate on the Kerala Appropriation Bill, the Minister said that all tax appeals before the Government would be decided within one and a half years. The High Court would be requested to set up a tax bench to speed up cases before it. Cases involving revenue of Rs. 2000 crore was pending before the Court.

Dr. Isaac said that the about 70 per cent of tax revenue came from Kochi. So, the government was planning a ‘Mission Ernakulam’ to achieve better tax realisation from the area. The tax growth from the area was a mere two per cent.

He said that the State had lost Rs. 100 crore in revenue because some demands were time barred. So, notices would be issued in all cases nearing five years. Steps would be taken to check corruption at Walayar and Majeswaram check posts.

Refuting Opposition contention that his revised Budget lacked a developmental approach, the Minister said that it proposed to increase developmental expenditure outside the Budget from Rs. 5000 crore to Rs. 50000 crore. Rs. 10000 crore was to be invested in the social sector.  Such massive investment in the social sector would be unprecedented.

Unlawful activities
Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan, who intervened in the debate, said that it was the policy of the government not to invoke the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the State. However, cases involving Islamic State links were being handed over to NSA and it was mandatory for them to invoke the Act in such cases. If the Act had been invoked in any other case, the government would look into the matter.

He said that the Congress was failing to fight communalism. If it was fighting communalism, would the Congress have lost its deposit in the election from Nemom against BJP leader O. Rajagopal, he asked.

Referring to Opposition comment why the Chief Minister required an economic advisor when Dr. Thomas Isaac was there, Mr. Vijayan said that the two were different. Advisor Gita Gopinath was professor at Harvard. Decisions on her advice would be taken only in consultation with others including Dr. Isaac.

The House then passed the Appropriation Bill, which seeks to provide for withdrawal of Rs. 122594 crores from the Consolidated Fund of the State for the services of the current financial year.