Toll abolished, various items to be cheaper
UT to suffer Rs 1500 cr annual loss
JAMMU, Dec 31: After ‘One Nation One Constitution One Flag’, the Union Territory Government today implemented ‘One Nation One Tax’ in Jammu and Kashmir by abolishing the Toll Post at Lakhanpur, a step which will slash prices of many items including construction material, vegetables, pulses, chicken etc but would give tough times to the local industry which will have to compete with outside industrial units.
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Abolition of Toll Post Lakhanpur will cost Rs 1500 crore revenue loss per year to Jammu and Kashmir Government but it will bring the newly created Union Territory at par with other States and UTs of the country where after implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), all other toll posts had been abolished. However, then PDP-BJP Government headed by Mehbooba Mufti had used special Constitutional powers of the State to keep Lakhanpur Toll Post running and charging toll on the items imported here from other parts of the country.
Construction material including cement and iron, clothes, vegetables, chicken, flour, pulses and various other items on which heavy toll was charged at Lakhanpur, the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir, will become cheaper with abolition of toll from tomorrow.
An official notification abolishing toll by the Jammu and Kashmir Government with effect from 1.1.2020 was issued today by Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Financial Commissioner, Finance Department.
Though the Finance Department notification stated that the Toll Post at Lakhanpur has been abolished, the UT Government spokesman Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary, Planning Development and Monitoring Department, told reporters later that all Toll Posts at Lakhanpur, Railways Stations and Airports have been abolished with effect from January 1.
Official sources told the Excelsior that after implementation of ‘One Nation One Constitution and One Flag’ norm in Jammu and Kashmir with abolition of special Constitutional provisions of the erstwhile J&K State on August 5, the BJP was facing major embarrassment at various levels for going ahead with additional Toll Tax by the J&K Government, which was now directly under control of the Central Government by the virtue of being a Union Territory as well as without Legislature, which was negating Narendra Modi Government’s concept of ‘One Nation One Tax’ after implementation of GST.
However, with abolition of the Toll Tax, Jammu and Kashmir has now joined rest of the States and Union Territories in implementation of ‘One Nation One Tax’ regime.
While the GST was implemented in entire country in June, then PDP-BJP Government in Jammu and Kashmir had delayed implementation of the new tax regime by nearly a month. However, even after implementation of the GST, the then Government went ahead with levy of separate Toll on the goods being imported in J&K from other parts of the country.
The Government had claimed that the Toll was necessary to protect the local industry.
According to sources, two type of toll was levied at Lakhanpur-basic toll and toll on goods.
Rs 100 per quintal toll was charged on cement, iron and other construction material like sanitary goods and hardware material, Rs 900 per quintal on chickens, Rs 400 per quintal on clothes and Rs 100 per quintal on flour, pulses, vegetables etc. Almost all items imported from outside were levied toll at Lakhanpur making them costlier to the same items manufactured by the local industry in Jammu and Kashmir.
Maximum of Rs 8000 per quintal Toll was levied on cigarettes.
“Apart from reduction in prices of many items, abolition of Toll Post will remove the tag of ‘den of corruption’ from Lakhanpur, end smuggling of items which was done by some unscrupulous elements to evade Toll Tax and reduce traffic jams at gateway to the Union Territory as long queues of trucks were witnessed there on number of occasions for completion of formalities like weight, toll etc.
Sources said the J&K Government will suffer an annual loss of Rs 1500 crore following abolition of Toll Posts at Lakhanpur, Railways and Airports. In the remaining three months of this financial year, the UT could suffer loss of Rs 300 crore.
Some bureaucrats, according to sources, had opposed scrapping of Toll on the ground that it will cause huge revenue loss to the UT exchequer as Rs 1500 crore revenue per year was a huge amount for Jammu and Kashmir. However, there was another view that since Jammu and Kashmir is now directly under the control of Central Government, the revenue losses will be compensated by the Centre.
Addressing a press conference this afternoon, Government spokesman Rohit Kansal said abolition of Toll will give competitive and leveling play field to the industrial sector.
Admitting that abolition of toll will lead to Rs 1500 crore annual loss, Kansal, however, said the decision was required to be implemented in letter and spirit for ‘One Nation One Tax’.
“The Government remained committed to the development of vibrant, modern and competitive industrial and manufacturing sector in Jammu and Kashmir,” Kansal said and added that the Government has decided to set up a High Powered Committee under the chairmanship of Advisor KK Sharma to interact with various stakeholders and suggest measures to improve competitiveness of local industry.