The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (PPBM) has accused the government of sending VAT assessment to 8,000 GST dealers without issuing them a prior notice. They said the GST Department adopted an unprofessional approach towards dealers who found the assessment to be exorbitant.

The department made a demand for depositing more funds for cases pertaining to the financial year 2015-16 and 2016-17 which the dealers called highly inappropriate. GST dealers Sunil Mehra, Sameer Jain and LR Sodhi, who are also members of the PPBM, recalled that Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, during his visit to the city on January 26, assured a PPBM delegation that soon, a one-time settlement scheme would be introduced to settle more than six-year-old VAT cases.

The move was expected to pave the way for the introduction of a new tax system under the GST for VAT dealers. They regretted that all their hopes had been shattered. They said without sending notices to 8,000 entrepreneurs, the GST Department imposed heavy fines after assessment, which was impractical and amounted to injustice to traders.

After the assurance of the Finance Minister, the traders did not expect such action by the department. They demanded that the government issues a one-time settlement scheme without the slab system soon and that the notices issued by the GST Department be withdrawn.

According to sources, the officials want to implement the slab system in the one-time settlement scheme so that traders cannot settle old VAT cases easily and the scope for corruption remains. Business leaders, however, say that one-time settlement scheme should be simple and without the slab system.

Members of the PPBM also strongly condemned the Power Corporation for increasing electricity rates for commercial consumers by 50 paise per unit. They said increase in power utility rate by three per cent every year would add to the burden on commerce and industry. They questioned the government as to where and how it should use the budgetary allocation of Rs 3,751 crore to the industries in the form of power subsidy. They added that it seemed to be another deceptive tactic to earn applause and goodwill.

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