A wave of resentment prevails in the traders’ community across Punjab over a recent public notice issued by Excise and Taxation Commissioner (ETC), Punjab.
As per this public notice, it has now been decided that with effect from August 10, 2012, information regarding intra-state movement of goods (within Punjab) shall also be furnished by all persons making sales of Rs. 3 lakh or above in a single transaction except in the case of iron and steel where this threshold shall be Rs. 2 lakh instead of Rs. 3 lakh and above.
This public notice further reads that the information shall be submitted by all sellers whose goods of the value prescribed above, are to move from one place to another place within Punjab, on “e-TRIP”, which is a virtual Information Collection Centre. This facility will not hinder the smooth transportation of goods as it does not involve and physical barrier. This service is called e-TIP (Transportation Information within Punjab). All persons filing returns to the Department under the Punjab Vat Act can avail this service by using their username and password for e-filing. Persons not having username and password but covered under this direction should obtain their username and password from the AETC of their district.
The ETC’s public notice further reads that e-TRIP is a facility through which the details of each movement of goods can be entered on the Department’s website i.e. www.pextax.com. This will result in the generation of an acknowledgement slip which shall accompany the goods during their movement. In case this acknowledgement slip does not accompany the goods, the owner shall become liable for penal action under section 51 of the Punjab VAT Act.
What I feel is that this public notice issued by ETC, Punjab is not in the larger interest of the traders’ community and the state’s economy as well. It is a hard fact that 90 per cent of traders across the state do not have the facility of PCs/laptops and internet. As such, it is impossible for traders to follow this direction when they do not have the required infrastructure.
Besides, those who have infrastructures in their premises cannot file information regarding intra-state movement of goods (within Punjab) on internet frequently. This will surely affect routine trading activities in Punjab. Most of the traders do not have enough money to spend lakhs of rupees annually on hiring services of manpower to deal with this purpose only.
It may be mentioned here that the Department’s website does not functions properly. Besides, there is acute power shortage in Punjab. Under the circumstances, it is not easy to file such information on computers. A customer will not keep waiting for completion of filing of information on computer. Rather, he will prefer to not to buy goods from a seller in Punjab. This will not only ruin trading in Punjab but will also bring down revenue of the state. When sales will come down then VAT collection will automatically come down.
The most dangerous thing to note down is that in case a trader fails to get acknowledgement slip due to improper functioning of the Department’s website or power failure and goods are moved from one place to another then the owner shall become liable for penal action under section 51 of the Punjab VAT Act. Is this a justified direction?
Look at the functioning of the Department. Traders’ community has been asking for online of `c’ form procedure over the decades but nothing has been done in this regard. On the other hand, the Departments wants to implement fresh directions within a few days.
I firmly believe that these directions by ETC Punjab, if implemented, will neither benefit traders nor the state government. Rather, these directions will further increase the prevailing corruption and bring down revenue collections of Punjab Government.
Therefore, I’ll urge upon Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to intervene in the whole matter and not let these directions be implemented in the state.