We will present our case to Centre: Pondy CM

PONDICHERRY, JULY 20. The Pondicherry Chief Minister, Mr. P. Shanmugham, indicated here today that a unanimous decision has been taken by the coalition ministry against the uniform sales tax insofar as its `injurious implications to the wellbeing of the people and economy of the Union Territory'.

Addressing a press conference here Mr. Shanmugham said the Union Finance Minister had convened a meeting in Delhi tomorrow with Finance Ministers of all States. As Minister in charge of Finance, he would place before the Centre the decisions and stand of the Pondicherry Administration on the subject. He said it would not be proper on his part to disclose to the media the contents of the decision before formally apprising the Centre.

He said Pondicherry had made it clear that the interests of the people and progress and development of Pondicherry should weigh strongly with the Centre and at one stage the Health Minister of Pondicherry had made it clear at one of the meetings with the Union Finance Minister on his behalf that there could be no cut in the plan allocation if Pondicherry did not fall in line with the uniform sales tax pattern.

He said the budget he submitted last month in Pondicherry Assembly also projected the fact that no taxation measure would be contemplated if it was injurious to common man and to Pondicherry's economy.

Mr. P. Kannan, PWD Minister, who was present at the press conference, said tomorrow's meeting of the Chief Minister with the Union Finance Minister would be virtually crucial. He said he would be able to get the full details of tomorrow's meeting from the Chief Minister and make it known to the people through the media.

Mr. Shanmugham made it clear that on no account would his government enter into any confrontation or controversy on the subject with the Centre.

He also said he had no communication from the Centre directing Pondicherry to adopt the uniform sales tax.

The Chief Minister said that if there was a serious implication to the people because of any fiscal measure, his government would never accept it.

For instance, when a new power tariff was contemplated in his budget, there was a strong view that this measure should be revoked. He revoked the proposed revision of tariff for domestic consumers although it would mean a loss of Rs. 2 crores in revenue.

The Chief Minister had been busy holding for the last two days talks with officials, a section of former officials, legislators of the secular democratic front of which the Congress(I) is the leader and also with the Ministers of the coalition ministry.

The uniform sales tax had been opposed by the parties (now in power)even while being in Opposition, right from the day when it was sought to be imposed in November last year.

In fact, the Chief Minister has been functioning as chairman of anti uniform sales tax action committee.