Professional tax to be reviewed

NEW DELHI, NOV.29. Following a spate of protests and opposition within the Congress party to proposed imposition of a "professional tax'' in the Capital, the Congress-ruled Municipal Corporation of Delhi is reconsidering its decision to go ahead with implementation of the new taxation regime.

There is serious thinking within the party that such a move could result in a backlash against it in any future political battle. Such a review may increase the gulf between the Government and the party as the Delhi Cabinet had recommended imposition of this new tax way back in March this year.

Stating that only an amendment had been made to the entire process and nothing really had been put in process, the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president, Ram Babu Sharma, whose hold on the Corporation is well known, today indicated that the tax could well come up for review in the near future. Asserting that the party or the Congress Government would do nothing that adversely affects the people of Delhi, Mr. Sharma informed that he would soon convene a meeting of senior Congress leaders from Delhi and also hold discussions with the Chief Minister to review the whole situation. A final decision on the controversial proposal will be taken only after views of all the senior leaders and elected representatives are taken into consideration.

At the same time, Mr. Sharma also indicated that the issue of an increase in the water tariff could also come under review in view of the reservations expressed by large sections of society. "I will consult the party high command on the issue of a hike in drinking water charges. I will be meeting the AICC general secretary in charge of Delhi, Ashok Gehlot, very soon to discuss this matter and whatever will be the outcome would be the final view point of the party and its leadership. The matter would also be taken up with the Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit,'' he remarked.

However, Mr. Sharma made it clear that proper thought should be given to issues relating to the common man before any burden is imposed on them. The Congress has to live and work according to the slogan coined by the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, "Congress Ka Haath Aam Admi Ke Saath''.

As for the professional tax issue, Mr. Sharma said the MCD House had only passed a resolution for amending the law and not given permission for imposition of the tax. "I have received a large number of representations from various sections including professionals and lawyers who have protested such a move. They have pointed out that as service tax was already being levied on a large number of items, it would be unfair to impose another tax on the people as it would only make services of the professionals expensive and the burden would be passed on to the citizens. All these were being given a serious thinking and we are not averse to reviewing anything that is against the interests of the people,'' he added.

It is understood that Mr. Sharma has decided to convene a meeting of the senior party leaders and representatives from the Corporation for holding discussions on the issue. While the bureaucracy is of the view that professional tax imposition was a must to expand the tax base and rake in extra revenue for the cash-strapped Corporation, the political leaders felt that they might have to pay a heavy price for such an unpopular measure. Apart from this, partymen are also likely to take up with the party high command the issue of hike in bus fares, which is being termed as a "rationalisation exercise'' by the Government.

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