Special Correspondent

“Oil companies running the racket in connivance with municipal officers”

CHANDIGARH: The chief of the BJP’s Investor Cell in Punjab, Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal, has urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to order a formal inquiry by a Central agency into an alleged advertisement tax scandal by oil companies in the State.

In a representation to Mr. Badal, who was presiding over a ‘Sangat Darshan’ (Meet the Public) programme in Ludhiana, Mr. Grewal alleged the scandal was to the tune of Rs.752 crore and was run by the oil companies in connivance with municipal officials in Punjab.

Mr. Grewal said the oil companies which had installed hoardings to advertise their products had not paid any advertisement tax applicable on such displays.

Of the 68,388 retail outlets across the country, 5,226 were commissioned in Punjab, where hoardings with an average 1,000 sq feet of façade apart from other advertisement spaces had been put up.

He said the advertisement tax on 5,226,000 sq feet of advertisement space which amounted to a whopping Rs.125 crore per annum was clandestinely being pocketed by the oil companies. Considering an average age of six years for these hoardings, as most of them were installed during the previous government’s tenure, Punjab had already incurred a loss of over Rs.752 crore to the State exchequer, he added.

Mr. Grewal demanded a probe by the CBI or the IB to fix the responsibility of erring and corrupt officials in the oil companies and Municipal Corporations.