Taxation- Does it not sound synonymous with Nagaland? The place where income tax is not applicable but every other tax under the sky is levied. In an attempt to outdo other parallel governments, the state government instead of working for the welfare of its people decided to impose the covid cess abrasively.
Barely one month after the nationwide lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of Covid19. The state government wasted no time to impose covid cess in the state. The covid cess came into effect on 28 April, 2020 burdening the common people by levying Rs.6 on Petrol and Rs.5 on Diesel respectively. This is in addition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) which is already collected by the state as its share. Starting 2014, there has been a continuous drop in crude oil prices. Today it has dropped to a record low of $34/ barrel. The last time crude oil was purchased at such cheap price was in 2004 when Petrol was priced at Rs.35.71/- and Diesel at Rs.22.74/-. For the general understanding of all, it is imperative to know the breakup of fuel prices. Currently, the base price of petrol is Rs. 24.95/ litre as per the Indian oil corporation website. The Central share which is in the form of Excise duty is Rs.32.98/litre on petrol and Rs. 31.88/litre on Diesel. This is an increase of over 270% in excise duty since 2014. During the UPA-II just before demitting the office, the excise duty was capped at Rs.9.48/litre on Petrol and Rs.3.56/litre on Diesel. The price of crude oil was also as high as $140/barrel in 2014. After that comes the VAT or the Value Added Tax which is the state’s share. Currently VAT is levied at over Rs. 17/litre on petrol and diesel. However, it depends from state to state. Then comes the dealer commission, freight charges et cetera. All these add up to the exorbitant fuel prices which the citizens have to bear the brunt. The Central government has collected a staggering 2 lakh crore rupees from the excise duty in the last six years!
Drawing inference from the above statistics, it is not rocket science to comprehend that the state government is simply imposing tax over tax on its gullible citizens. I will not feign ignorance by demanding the government of immediate accountability from the funds received for the post-devolution revenue deficit grant which many consider it as Covid19 fund. That is entirely a different subject and will be taken up in due course of time. With little or no welfare schemes of the state government the citizens have had a harrowing time during the total lockdown. The situation is no better even now. The relief rice under the NSDMA was also in some instances distributed under the name of the ministers of the ruling dispensation and the same did not reach the intended target. The present government seems to be completely cut off from reality devoid of any empathy for its suffering citizens. The decision of the state government on covid cess has added more woe to the misery of the common people.
Now that the state government has decided to charge the returnees for food and other expenditures, it has no moral authority to continue sucking the blood of its innocent citizens lest it like to liken itself with the gruesome analogy of Stalin and the chicken.
X Chophika Sumi
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