Thursday, November 05, 2009
GANGTOK, November 5: Delivering yet another blow to the old settlers of Sikkim, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today made it clear that the income tax relief has been granted only to the Sikkim Subject holders and no one else.
The Finance Minister said that the income tax exemption has been given only to the Sikkim Subject holders and not for others, informed Pabitra Bhandari, Executive Editor of Nepali daily Hamro Prajashakti over phone from New Delhi.
Bhandari had questioned the Finance Minister during the inaugural session of the Economic Editors’ Conference today whether the old settlers of Sikkim can be exempted from the income tax as provided to the Sikkim Subject holders here. The meet is being organized Press Bureau of Information at Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi.
Speaking to the media here over phone from New Delhi, Bhandari said in reply, Mukherjee made it clear that the income tax exemption was meant only for the Sikkim Subject holders.
The Finance Minister said that the Union government is targeting to collect Rs. 4 lakh crores as revenue from direct tax in one year and there will be no compromise on this target, informed Bhandari.
Similarly, revenue secretary PV Baidya added that the income tax relief modality had been made in consultation with the Sikkim government where only those names in the Sikkim Subject register and their descendants are eligible for income tax relief in Sikkim, informed Bhandari. Excluding them, Baidya said that others in Sikkim have to pay income tax, she informed.
The latest admission from the very top levels of the Union government deals another blow to the aspirations of the 9000 odd old settlers of Sikkim who have been clamouring for income tax exemption at par with the Sikkim Subject holders.
The Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim (AOSS) had been recently told by the State government to seek legal and constitutional advice so that it can forward the income tax exemption demand to the Centre. The State government had also communicated with AOSS about the conclusion of the committee, which had been formed to look into their demands, there were ‘no provision’ in the Income Tax Act, 1961 for grant of income tax exemption to the left out individuals of Sikkim.