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LG cautions people against misinformation about property tax, eviction drive

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Says, systematic approach by Tax Dept to simplify regulatory compliances has led to revenue augmentation; inaugurates GST symposium & Tax awareness initiative 'Kar-Tavya'

Jammu: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday cautioned the people of Jammu and Kashmir against “misinformation” being spread about the newly-introduced property tax and reiterated that his administration has ensured the lowest rates in the country and exempted 40 percent of the union territory population.

He said the doors of his administration are open for anyone who has a better suggestion with regard to the property tax.

The Union Territory administration recently notified the imposition of property tax in municipal areas from April 01. The tax rates will be five per cent of taxable annual value for residential properties and six per cent for commercial properties.

The decision sparked a widespread protest with almost all political parties, social organisations and the business community demanding immediate rollback of the order.

“Some people who do not want to pay the property tax are provoking others. The property tax is there across the country and we have ensured lowest rates in J&K,” Sinha said, addressing a GST symposium and Tax awareness initiative ‘Kar-Tavya’ for industries, traders associations and other stakeholders here.

The LG urged the people not to fall prey to certain vested interests spreading false information and creating misconceptions around property tax, anti-encroachment drives and power generation.

“No poor will be touched during anti-encroachment drives but no influential encroacher will be spared. The encroached land retrieved by the government will be utilised for the welfare of the common man and schools, colleges, hospitals and sports facilities will be developed on these lands,” he said.

He said the administration has taken care of the concerns of the common person while formulating the law as 40 percent of the population will not have to pay any property tax along with religious places which have been exempted.

“We have 5.20 lakh houses in Jammu, Srinagar and other municipal committees, out of which 2.06 lakh fall below 1,000 square feet which means 40 per cent will not have to pay property tax. Further, we have 2.03 lakh houses that fall below 1,500 square feet. Such houses have to pay below Rs 1,000 annually as property tax,” he said.

Similarly, Sinha said there are 1.01 lakh shops in Jammu, Srinagar and other areas falling under municipal committees, out of which 46 per cent of shops fall below 100 square feet and have to pay around Rs 700 annually on account of property tax.

He said the tax amount fixed is one-tenth of the tax being paid by the people in Shimla, Ambala and Dehradun.

“People will have to pay the lowest property tax. If we compare Shimla, Ambala and Dehradun with J&K, the UT has to pay only one-tenth of these states which is very low,” he said, urging people to come forward and cooperate with the government.

According to an official press release, Sinha said the people need to look at it with an open mind and if anyone among the business community, industrialists or others feel something better could be done, the doors of the administration are open for suggestions.

“Revenue will directly go to the accounts of municipalities and corporations. This step has been taken to make our cities an engine of growth,” he said.

Later talking to reporters, he rejected the criticism of the political parties that such decisions should have been left to the popular government and said his administration is governed by the constitution and all the decisions are made keeping in mind the public welfare.

“We provide Rs 900 crore every year to urban local bodies (to undertake developmental works…the property tax will definitely have its contribution in the development of J&K,” he said.

About the GST symposium being organized by J&K State Taxes Department in collaboration with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, LG said the outreach will help guide the stakeholders and taxpayers to build synergy and to achieve the prime objective to set J&K on a high growth trajectory.

“Systematic approach by the State Taxes Department to simplify the regulatory compliances has led to revenue augmentation and improved ease of doing business for the stakeholders. Such symposium and awareness drive will further stimulate the rate of compliance and productive capacity,” he added.

“We are following the Prime Minister’s mantra of Transform, Reform & Perform to build a prosperous & Atmanirbhar J&K. It is the collective responsibility of citizens and business enterprises to unlock potential and drive J&K’s economic growth,” said the LG.

“The reforms and policies focus on protection and empowerment of the common man. Our long-term economic development policies are aimed at reducing inequalities for the welfare of society. Robust growth in business sectors will benefit society as a whole,” the LG observed.

He said it is imperative to ensure that economic growth through stabilization of the tax revenues is ensured at all levels.  “At the same time it should also be ensured that habit gets inculcated in every business enterprise & consumers to pay taxes with pride,” he added.

“We must achieve the target of 100 percent GST tax coverage. Every taxpayer must come forward and contribute towards nation building,” the LG added.

“GST realized the dream of One Nation, One Tax and guaranteed revenue flow to the states. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the business community and citizens of Jammu Kashmir for their cooperation & invaluable contribution in the development of J&K,” the LG said.

Observing that increased business activities are required for long term economic development and strengthening food security and generating employment opportunities, the LG highlighted the effective steps taken by the administration for improving Ease of Doing Business, facilitating the expansion of the existing units and setting up of new industries and businesses and extending the benefits of amnesty schemes.

“The reason for buoyancy in the revenue is due to several measures taken by the State Taxes Department like establishment of GST Facilitation Centers (GST Suvidha Kendras), District Level Awareness Programmes for the Stakeholders across the UT of J&K, Coordination Meetings between Central GST and UT GST authorities etc. The State Taxes Department has adopted a promotional approach rather than a regulatory one and is continuously focusing on capacity building,” the LG noted.

The LG also highlighted the transformation taking place in the industrial sector with the introduction of a new Industrial development policy.

“Jammu Kashmir has taken a giant leap in the industrial sector and investments from big companies from India & abroad continue to flow into the UT for industrial activities. Within two years, we have received investment proposals worth Rs 66,000 crores.  In the last six months, one industrial-business unit has commenced its operation every day.  This reflects the true picture of new and aspirational Jammu and Kashmir,” the LG said.

The LG reiterated the government’s commitment to develop more land for industries. “Every facility will be extended to 18 industrial estates in the future. I want more people from J&K to set up industries and avail benefit of industrial development scheme,” he added.

Responding to the demand of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India for land for centre of excellence, the LG announced that the land will be allotted for the said purpose.

The LG further shared the vision of the UT government for accelerating growth in various sectors. “We are working with an integrated approach for development of all sectors,” he added.

The LG also spoke on efforts of the government to generate employment and livelihood opportunities for the youth.

“More than 30,000 vacant government posts have been filled in the last three years. And wherever any wrong was found, CBI inquiry has been initiated. The recruitment for another 20,000 posts in administration will be advertised in 3-4 months,” the LG informed.

“We want to saturate self-employment in J&K. Youth were identified from every panchayat and town of the UT, and in a single day, 75000 youth were provided more than Rs 939 cr financial assistance. More than 6 lakh women have been connected with NRLM,” he noted.

On the occasion, the LG unveiled Kar-Tavya periodical and Kar-Tavya booklet and also handed over Letter of Appreciation to organisations and top tax payers of the UT.

Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Dr Rashmi Singh, Commissioner State Taxes; Ranjit Kumar Agarwal, National VP, Institute of Chartered Accountants India (ICAI) and other senior officers and various stakeholders were present on the occasion.

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