PAC questions State Govt on lessee system

DIMAPUR, FEB 19 (NPN) | Publish Date: 2/19/2020 12:34:10 PM IST

Even as the lessees had obtained a stay on the cancellation order of principal secretary of municipal affairs department from Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench, Public Action Committee (PAC) of Naga Council Dimapur (NCD) has raised few questions for the State government to ponder and act upon, rectify, amend or legislate wherever need be. 

In a representation to the chief secretary through Dimapur deputy commissioner, PAC of NCD wanted to know under what Act, provision or clause was municipal affairs department authorised to collect toll and utility fees. 

It also asked the government to define and substantiate toll tax and utility fees as rest of India had done away collection of octroi, etc, after GST, adding that the public were no longer totally ignorant and understood the meaning of toll and utility. 

Asking why GST was implemented and whether the State was not receiving the share levied/taxed on merchants, PAC pointed out that GST had subsumed all other fees and octroi and questioned why double tax merchants in Nagaland. 

Further, If the State desired to levy fees and royalty by legislation, the committee said the government should implement it digitally (online) to avoid and do away corrupt practices.

Questioning whether minor minerals coming from other States could be taxed in the name of royalty, the committee asked the why the forest and geology & mining departments imposed royalty on minor minerals coming from Assam. 

Pointing out that Nagaland Municipal Act, 2010 framed before GST had become redundant and obsolete, the committee stressed that till the Act was amended, the same was inapplicable, especially after GST had become effective.

Reiterating its opposition to the lease system of Dimapur Municipal Council (DMC), PAC said it had identified certain negative points during its “Operation Check Gate” against illegal collection of taxes.

The committee claimed that the lessees sub-leased and gave sub-contracts to individuals who employed thugs to collect fees and alleged that the lease system encouraged illegal collection as the lessees were given a free hand.

It also said that the system encouraged and gave birth to syndicates and monopoly that prevented free open market, while the collection booths served as information and identification booths for anti-social elements.

Alleging that fees were collected randomly at high rates without fear of authority, PAC claimed it had noticed and nabbed such lessees, adding that there was no transparency or accountability either.

PAC argued that no benefit accrued to public from such collections whatsoever, and instead led to jacking up of prices. As examples, it claimed that MS rod was cheaper in Mokokchung, while vegetables were cheaper in Dimapur. 

If through proper legislation the State was entitled to issue lease, the committee said it should be done openly for all interested parties to participate.

Alleging that over 300 persons had been appointed in DMC who had no task to do, the representation asked if the municipal affairs department was utilising the lease system to pay salaries to these employees. At the expense of the public, the department had no right to collect money to pay government employees, it declared.

PAC expressed the confidence that the chief secretary would heed to voices of the public instead of succumbing to few vested interest people, who were ready to ruthlessly throttle and suffocate the common man.

Mentioning that NCD was one of the oldest NGOs in Dimapur comprising all Naga tribal and non- Naga community representatives, the representation asserted that the council was the highest mandated NGO of Dimapur and represented all citizens of this cosmopolitan city of Nagaland.

Pointing out that Dimapur was the commercial hub of Nagaland that required no explanation, it added that every commodity entering the State from mainland India could not be stocked, sorted, dispatched and distributed without the town as it was kind of a “dry port” of Nagaland.

The representation claimed that PAC had been tirelessly working for the good of the common man without any ulterior motive, prejudice, partiality or discrimination. It said it wanted to make Dimapur a better city to live in, and hence it was determined to root out all ills that hampered growth and ease of living, especially multiple collection of money.

The representation was signed by PAC convener Vekhosayi Nyekha and secretary Ellis Swu. 



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