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RTI action shows VAT’s what at MG bus station


Atul Patankar

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Atul Patankar

As reported expressbuzz.com on 27 Jul 2010

 

HYDERABAD: Of the 114 shops on the premises of the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station, only two are registered with the department of sales tax. The scenario came to light after an RTI application was filed by one Ganji Srinivas Rao of the Lok Satta Party.

According to Section 17 (7) of the VAT Act, every commercial establishment having an annual income of over Rs 5 lakh should register as a turnover tax (TOT) dealer. If only the monthly licence fee to the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation is taken into account, which ranges from few thousands to Rs 2 lakh, about 40 shops come under the purview of VAT.

However, only two commercial shops are paying tax to the government. This has been going on for the last 16 years and neither have the shops bothered to pay nor officials gone about collecting tax. According to the RTC regional manager, 114 shops are functioning in the MGBS building.

“We wanted to bring to light how the exchequer is losing crores of revenue due to such practices,’’ said Ganji Srinivas. He further said, “If the government can ensure that all commercial establishments pay VAT, it would get more revenues. There is no need for a hike in VAT which has been increased from 12 percent to 14.5 percent, burdening the consumer further.”

Srinivas Rao first made an application to the Gowliguda circle on October 20, 2009 seeking the details. The commercial tax officer replied by saying the MGBS does not fall under its purview. He then made an application to the Afzalgunj circle where again there was no response. After the expiry of time period of 30 days for response, he went for an appeal. Again, he was told the MGBS was not under its purview and they were forwarding the application to the Gowliguda circle, under which it falls. This time, they were forced to divulge the information.

The RTI activist said, “If the situation at a bus station in the capital is like this, you can imagine the situation at bus stations across the state. It could not have happened without some kind of understanding between officials and politicians supporting the shops.’’

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