Special Correspondent

Arrack contractors owe State Rs. 712 crore

Three amendments to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act approved

Interest waiver scheme for Ashraya housing scheme beneficiaries

Bangalore: The State Government has announced several incentives, including waiver of interest, to motivate defaulters to pay their dues to the authorities in the Excise and Commercial Taxes sector.

Briefing presspersons after a meeting of the State Cabinet here on Monday, Minister for Home V.S. Acharya and the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar said the Government was keen on maintaining a clean track record in the Excise and Sales Tax receipts, and towards this end has come forward with a Karsamadhan scheme — to provide incentives to defaulters and thus ensure that they clear their dues to the Government.

The Karsamadhan scheme for the Excise sector is for the dues to be received prior to the total ban on the manufacture and sale of arrack (July one, 2005). Of a total of Rs 712.72 crore due to the Government from the arrack and toddy contractors, Rs. 251.35 crore constitutes the principal amount and Rs. 461.47 crores is the interest thereon. Under the scheme announced on Monday, for those who pay the principal amount due from them within a period of three years, the interest thereon will be waived. Further, they can pay the principal amount in three instalments within the stipulated three months.

Similar is the scheme for the commercial taxes sector which is prior to the introduction of the value addition tax (VAT) regime in April 2005 . The total sales tax due to the Government is Rs. 498 crore and under the scheme the defaulters can clear the dues with the payment of a ten per cent interest on the principal amount. This scheme will be in operation until December 31.

Veterinary college

Dr. Acharya said the Cabinet also approved the starting of a Veterinary college at Athani in Belgaum district and four horticultural colleges at Mysore, Hiriyur, Sirsi and Koppal. All these colleges will commence functioning from the next academic year starting in June and will have all the requisite facilities in about three years.

In yet another important decision, the Cabinet gave its approval for three amendments to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act of 1993, which includes enhancing the reservation set apart for women from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in taluk and the zilla panchayats. The other amendments relate to usage of electronic voting machines in panchayat elections and appointment of panchayat development officers.

The other decisions include setting up of a Mango Development Board with a grant of Rs. 10 crore, Vajapayee Housing Scheme for the poor to provide 50,000 sites of 20-foot by 30-foot dimension for the urban poor in the current year, an interest waiver scheme for Ashraya housing scheme beneficiaries who clear their principal loan due (the total due from 10.63 lakh beneficiaries is Rs. 1,453 crore and the interest due on this is Rs. 963 crore).