‘Plug revenue leaks before levying tax’

FOR A FOCUSSED APPROACH: Congress leader Siddaramaiah at a press conference in Mysore on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: M.A.SRIRAM

Staff Correspondent

‘Drought and floods will push up food prices’

Government urged to introduce austerity measures

MYSORE: Expressing his reservations over State Government’s move to introduce taxation measures to mobilise Rs. 2,000 crore for flood-hit people, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah has urged Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to first plug revenue leaks in the administration.

Mr. Siddaramaiah told presspersons that introduction of tax measures in the middle of the fiscal year demands promulgation of an Ordinance or amendments to present tax norms besides having a cascading effect on the “already” troubled State economy.

“Introducing taxation measures is not a wise move and instead of inviting fresh problems, it is better for the Government to take steps to plug leaks in tax revenue and concentrate on improving non-tax revenue collection,” he said.

Further rationalising his suggestion, he said crops on 56 lakh hectares of land had been lost because of drought and floods. The resultant shortage of food items would push up the prices.

The move was sure to affect the common man and imposing additional tax would lead to inflation. Under the circumstances, it was prudent to plug the leaks in tax revenue and improve collection of non-tax revenue, he added.

Accusing Mr. Yeddyurappa of not taking stringent steps to plug the revenue leaks, the former Finance Minister said that the Chief Minister had faltered in taking corrective steps to streamline revenue collection.

“On his own admission, there is a shortage of Rs. 10,000 crore to Rs. 12,000 crore in tax collection. While there was a growth of 29 per cent in tax collection during my period, now the figures is showing negative growth,” he said.

Clarifying that he was not trying to politicise the issue when the State was reeling under floods, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that he did not have any qualms about introducing taxation measures for political reasons.

His suggestion was purely in the interest of public and economy, he said. “It is not difficult to accrue Rs. 2,000 crore through improving non-tax revenue. What is needed is sincere effort in that direction,” he said.

The former Deputy Chief Minister urged the Government to introduce austerity measures to reduce burden on the exchequer and appealed to the Chief Minister to stop announcing grant as a populist measure.

Taking exception to BJP leaders alleging discrimination in releasing Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) by the Centre, he said: “In fact, it was the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government which fixed the quantum and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government had nothing to do with this. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Rs. 1,000-crore package on par with Andhra Pradesh, which surpassed Karnataka in terms of population and geographical area,” he said.

Expressing his reservation over the Government fixing Rs. 2,000 an acre for crop loss and fixing limit to 2.5 acres of land, he urged Mr. Yeddyurappa to fix at least Rs. 10,000 an acre as it was not possible for farmers to procure seeds and fertilisers in the amount fixed by the Government. “The Government has to waive of the loan borrowed by farmers and artisans to rescue them from the crisis and provide them seeds and fertilizers free of cost,” he said.