Kerala raids rich to pay poor

August 14th, 2008 - 4:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 14 (IANS) Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has solved the problem of clearing arrears to about 1.5 million pensioners ahead of the festival of Onam - by collecting Rs.158.70 million from businesses in taxes and fines on tax evasions. Over the last two weeks, the sales tax department conducted raids on 200 select business establishments and raised the amount.

The entire amount would be used to pay off the monthly pension to the weaker sections of society, Isaac told reporters here Thursday.

“Last year, in August, the total tax collection in the state was Rs.650 crores (Rs.6.5 billion) and by the 13th of this month itself the tough stand taken by the taxes department has seen tax collection touch Rs.649 crores (Rs.6.49 billion),” he said.

He added that, before the festival season - Onam is next month, it was decided to clear off all arrears in pensions payable to the weaker sections of society that were pending for a few months.

“In the last budget, I had raised the minimum monthly pension to Rs.200 and close to 1.5 million people in the state benefit from this. We will pay out Rs.180 crore (Rs.1.8 billion) before the Onam season as pension arrears and there will be no more arrears after this payout,” said Isaac.

He said the tax department would do its job efficiently but there would be no vengeance.

“We have called for a meeting of the Value Added Tax Council which includes representative of trade bodies. At the meeting, we will exhibit the documents that the tax department have seized and will show them how taxes had been evaded,” said Isaac.

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