ST exemption withdrawal kept in abeyance, at last

| 26 October 1999 11:43 IST

Putting an end to the controversy which had made the whole Goan industry hostile towards the Congress government, the decision to withdraw sales tax exemption has been now kept in abeyance till the year end.

Chief minister Luizinho Faleiro, it may be recalled, had suddenly announced a cabinet decision last month to withdraw the blanket sales tax exemption for 15 years and to impose half of the fixed amount of sales tax on all the industries, with retrospective effect.

Acute financial crunch was the reason cited for the decision while Faleiro had justified his unilateral stand, quoting a supreme court judgement which had authorised the state government to reverse such policies in case of economic crisis.

The agitated industry, while protesting against the decision, had also brought to the light that the cabinet decision was taken without having any proper statistical figures in hand.

The opposition parties like the BJP had also criticised Faleiro for applying the decision to all the industries when the cabinet proposal was meant for only the liquor industry.

Addressing a press conference after the cabinet meeting today, Faleiro has now announced that his government had agreed to give three-month time to study the proposal in-depth and come out with concrete proposals.

In consultation with the organisations like the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the Goa Small Industries Association, Faleiro has already formed a working group to study the whole issue. The group is supposed to prepare concrete proposals for the resources mobilisation.

"I am short of around Rs 14 crore and the industry has promised me to give much more revenue than what I would get by withdrawing the ST exemption. Let us see what they do", said Faleiro.

He however still appears firm on diverting this revenue to the Infrastructure Development Corporation, which he is planning to constitute shortly, in order to overcome the shortcoming the state is presently facing to attract more industries.

He has also proposed a draft industrial policy for the tourist state, which was discussed recently by the industrial circles, trade unions as well as several environment-related NGOs, without coming to any conclusion.

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