Staff Reporter

Say allegations were made in the Assembly without understanding facts

KOLLAM: The Cashew Manufacturers and Exporters Association has registered a strong protest against a statement made by T.N. Prathapan, MLA, in the Assembly that the cashew industry had cheated the government Rs.23.25 crore by way of tax and another Rs.12. 25 crore penalty on the tax in question.

At a press conference here recently, president of the association Baldwin Austin and general secretary A. Abdul Salam said that the MLA made the allegation without understanding the facts.

It pertains to the sale of cashew kernels to other States in the country. The Department of Commercial Taxes (DCT) had identified some technical flaws in the concerned C and F forms. But these had not created any loss to the State government. Yet, the DCT began harassing the cashew industry and that began generating a crisis in the industry. In this backdrop, the leaders of all political parties and trade unions in the district submitted memoranda to the Chief Minister and Finance Minister highlighting the real facts.

A compromise formula was then worked out and at a meeting called by the Chief Minister with the representatives of the industry, trade unions and political parties, it was agreed that the industrialists would pay 4 per cent tax as is the case for sale of kernels in other States and settle the issue. The earlier assessment was on the basis of a tax of 12.5 per cent.

The association leaders said that the settlement formula had been endorsed an year ago by the Assembly. Pointing a finger at the Finance Minister for arriving at a settlement has no base. Secretary of the association B. Gopinathan and vice-president G. Vasanthakumar were also present.