People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 04

January 23, 2005

LF Calls For Periodical Review Of

Value Added Tax Proposal


THE Bengal Left Front meeting at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan on January 15 is of the opinion that value added tax or VAT should be introduced and periodical reviews made to find out the plus and minus points of the tax.


Briefing the press on the meeting later on, Left Front chairman Biman Basu informed that the meeting of the Left Front discussed in some detail the VAT proposal. It is known that while some states have already started to impose levy VAT, the tax will be implemented as per the central legislation from April 1 later this year.


Discussion on VAT commenced in detail at the chief minister’s conferences held back in 1999.  It was resolved then that the finance ministers of the various state governments would sit down and discus the implications of VAT before forwarding recommendations to the union government.


Bengal Left Front believes that before and after implementation of the tax, the issues that centre on the tax should be discussed in seminars organised for the purpose. The state LF government could review the VAT every three months.  Later the Left Front could convene to discuss VAT.  In any case, after a year with VAT, a comprehensive review must be undertaken to ascertain whether the VAT has been of use or otherwise for the exchequer.


Biman Basu made it quite clear that not merely economists per se, but even Left economists were divided on the question of VAT.  The basic issues concerned are whether the introduction of VAT would enhance the state’s income and cut down on tax evasion. 


The debate also concerns the impact that the VAT would surely have on the development of the centre-state relations. Biman Basu commented that uncons-titutional initiatives should not be taken on the VAT issue.


Biman Basu clarified to say that if, after some time, the majority of the state governments had a firm opinion about the VAT being welcome or not welcome, an appropriate process could be initiated thereafter based on the majority view.


Basu informed that the Left Front condoled the death of the victims of the tsunami. It also condoled the demise of Comrade Nripen Chakraborty, of M S Subbalakshmi, and of P V Narasimha Rao.


On the issue of increase in the bus fare, the Left Front noted that back on October 7, 2003 when the last restructuring of the fare regime was done in Bengal, the minimum price of diesel per litre had stood at Rs 21.47.  Currently, the price is Rs 25.25 per litre. 


The Bengal Left Front has asked the transport minister of the state LF government to go in for an appropriate and proportional increase in bus fare, never letting go of the crucial issue of the plight of the people in the face of enhanced fares.


The Bengal Left Front heard Forward Bloc leader, Ashok Ghosh on the issue of resignation from the Bengal Left Front government of agricultural marketing minister, Chhaya Ghosh of FB.  Ashok Ghosh informed the Left Front meeting that his party had asked Chhaya Ghosh to resign her cabinet post since she had been found flouting the party’s discipline.  FB recommended the agricultural minister, Kamal Guha, also of FB, to look after that Chhyaya Ghosh’s department.  The state LF government has since acted upon the recommendations.