The Budget session of Tamilnadu Assembly will begin on 13 February. Budget for the year 2014-’15 will be tabled on the same day. According to an official release, the Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal has convened the session at 10 am on 13 February. It is to be noted that the first session of the year started on 30 January and concluded on 3 February.
Jaya slams levy of service tax on rice, dubs as discriminatory.
Strongly opposing the Union Finance Ministry’s decision to exclude rice from agricultural produce list and levying service tax on it, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today said it smacked of “unfairness” against people in south and east where the grain is the staple food.
In a letter to PM Manmohan Singh, she sought his personal intervention in the issue and sought to remit and return the already levied service tax since July 1, 2012.
Calling the Finance Ministry’s move as “invidious, discriminatory and completely unjust,” she observed that this would be an additional burden to the state government towards the expense incurred for the Public Distribution System.
“The interpretation given by the Ministry of Finance defies logic and common sense. From time immemorial, rice has been regarded as an ‘agricultural commodity’,” she said, adding Tamil Nadu has already taken a clear stand that rice should be exempted from the levy of the Goods and Services Tax.
She pointed out that rice had been exempted from service tax in Central government’s notifications in 2002, 2003 and 2004, when Service Tax was levied on storage of goods as it was then defined as “agricultural produce”.
The Ministry’s stand that rice was not an agricultural product was “discriminatory, regressive and indefensible,” as other cereals including wheat were exempted from levy of service tax, she said.
“It smacks of unfairness against people residing in certain regions of the country, especially in the South and the East where rice is the staple food grain consumed. It will raise the price of rice in the open market, particularly at a time when food inflation is already weighing down heavily on the common people,” she added.