24X7 check-post sought at Central station
The Kerala Commercial Taxes Department has proposed to the State government to sanction a 24-hour check-post at the Central Railway Station here as a first step towards checking large-scale evasion of tax on goods imported into the State through the rail route.
Tax enforcers said they had also reported to the government that a set of porters and certain corrupt elements in the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Railway Parcel Service at the Central Station here were recurrently frustrating their efforts to check the smuggling of taxable commodities.
On Saturday, they complained to their higher authorities that a set of RPF men had detained one of their employees for three hours on the charge of parking the official vehicle in a haphazard manner near the railway parcel counter here. In the past one month, tax enforcers said they collected Rs.25 lakh as penalty from traders who attempted to evade tax on goods they had imported as railway parcels. Officials said their detections so far were “just the tip of the iceberg”.
An array of saleable commodities ranging from plastic to hardware and electronic goods was smuggled into the State in night trains as passenger baggage and also in goods wagons leased by private courier agencies. Sales tax inspection of railway parcels commenced every day at 7 a.m. and concluded at 5 p.m. when the railway parcel counter closed.
Enforcers said that smugglers often misused the authority given to parcel counter staff to clear perishable and non-taxable goods brought by passengers for personal use as “ticket luggage” at any hour of the day to deceitfully import saleable commodities tax in bulk, without paying tax.
In June, a tax enforcer thwarted an attempt to smuggle a large consignment of non-stick cookware out of the railway station’s warehouse after the parcel counter had stopped clearing goods for the day.
Investigators said the names and value added tax (VAT) registration number of the consignors and consignees on parcel bills of most of the consignments were fictitious.
One July 24, 2007, the Union government had, for security reasons, instructed the railway parcel service and courier agencies to accept consignments only from senders who give their complete address with proof of identity and the accurate details of those who take delivery at the destination station.
Tax department officials said they had reported to the State government that the order remained largely on paper. The smuggled goods ended up on the shelves of a set of registered traders in the State who hoped to make additional profit by depriving the public exchequer of its revenue.