Times of India: Ahmedabad: Wednesday, April 20, 2016.
Gujarat government announced on Tuesday that no Value Added Tax (VAT) will be imposed on salt unit owners with plots smaller than 10 acres. The state government has also granted exemption from paying 5 % VAT to salt producers who have been given land on lease. Besides, exemption has also been given to producers of domestic salt. Agariyas (salt workers), however, say their lives would now be under the thumb of the salt inspector, and they will not be able to prepare accounts, as they are mostly illiterate. The salt-panners' association has demanded total roll back on the VAT on salt comparing it with the tax imposed by British Raj.
A press statement issued by finance minister Saurabh Patel said that the state government has decided to exempt small salt panners from the 5 % VAT announced in the budget for the current financial year.
“The state government has decided to give exemption from paying 5% VAT on salt produced by salt producers owning plots of 10 acre or less. Besides, the salt pan workers who have been given land on lease by the state government will also be exempted,“ said the statement.
Salt pan workers who are selling salt only for domestic purpose will also be exempted, reads the statement.
Bharat Somera, a salt pan worker from Meetha Ghoda village of Surendranagar district, sa id that this exemption will not help salt pan workers much as they have to prepare accounts to show to salt inspectors. “Most of the Agariyas (salt pan workers) are illiterate and cannot prepare such accounts,“ he said.
Bachubhai Ahir, spokesperson of Namak Satyagrah Samiti, said that the new provision of recovering VAT by the Gujarat government is alike the tax imposed on salt by the Britishers. “The new provision will bring inspector raj in the salt industry. If the salt inspector decides our fates, then we will face huge difficulties,“ he said.
Harinesh Pandya, activist, said that the salt industry needs the state's support at a time when it is facing tough competition from the Chinese market. Instead of supporting the salt industry , the state government is levying VAT on them.