Finance Minister K.M. Mani has said that stringent action will be taken against traders who evade taxes. He was addressing a pre-budget consultation session here on Saturday.

The Minister promised to examine suggestions made by representatives of trade bodies at the meeting jointly organised by Finance Department, Commercial Taxes Department and Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation.

The Minister said a lot of traders were yet to register themselves under the VAT regime. Traders with an annual turnover of Rs. 10 lakh are expected to have VAT registration. Though the government had offered a liberal scheme to traders to join the scheme, thousands of traders were yet to take VAT registration, thus evading tax. The government would have to impose penalty on tax evaders, he said.

Mr. Mani said Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation has been asked to provide a summary of the proposals made by trade organisations and present the key suggestions to him. The demand for gender budgeting too, would be examined, he said.

Various trade bodies such as Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bakers Association of Kerala and Indian Farmer’s Movement presented their views at the meeting. The government was urged to check misuse of tax index number by unscrupulous traders. One of the key issues raised by the trade bodies was the sale of Chinese goods by hawkers, which resulted in loss of revenue to the Tax Department apart from affecting domestic traders.

Another issue brought before the Minister was anomalies in taxation on processed food which had gone up multi-fold, threatening the very existence of food processing units.

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