Costlier fuel, power in Punjab imminent

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Chandigarh, April 14

The Punjab government’s plan to collect the two new taxes passed in the Budget in March is all set to roll out this month itself, raising the cost of fuel, power and vehicles, among other liabilities. The notification for the ‘professional’ and ‘social security’ taxes is expected by the end of this month.A new initiative being introduced in the state that has seen no fresh tax being imposed in the past 20 years is the setting up of a mechanism to collect funds under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. With the Companies Act, 2013, making it obligatory for companies to fund social sector initiatives, the government is looking at financing its social security schemes through it — be it food security, social security pensions, health insurance or scholarships for students from marginalised sections. So far, there was no channel to collect these funds.An imposition that is going to affect nearly all categories is the collection of Rs 400 crore per annum from surcharge on the sale of fuel in retail. While 50 paise per litre will be charged to consumers on the sale of petrol, Re 1 per litre will be charged on diesel. A surcharge of 1 per cent will be imposed on the total cost of any new vehicle bought in Punjab, fetching the government another Rs 200 crore per annum. Besides, all commercial vehicles will have to pay a 10 per cent surcharge each year along with the annual road tax that they pay.Power consumers (other than agriculture and SC/BC consumers) will have to pay between Rs 25 and Rs 200 per month along with their tariff as surcharge to fund the state government’s social security schemes. Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said rules were being framed to start collecting the new levies.Sources said this money was needed to ensure payment to the 1.56 crore Atta-Dal beneficiaries; 17.35 lakh social security pensioners; 45 lakh health insurance beneficiaries; two lakh Dalit students who get scholarships; and three lakh Shagun scheme beneficiaries. “These social security levies will not go to the state Consolidated Fund, but will be an independent fund and the money will be used only for social security initiatives,” said an official.A roadmap for collecting Punjab Development Tax is ready. All GST payers in the state will pay the development tax of Rs 200 per month, while instructions will be issued to all employers/firms/establishments to deduct this tax from the salaries of all income-tax paying employees with a monthly income of Rs 30,000 or above.

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