Zeliang slams COVID-19 cess decision

DIMAPUR, MAY 8 (NPN) | Publish Date: 5/8/2020 12:40:36 PM IST

Leader of Opposition (LoP), TR Zeliang, Friday took to Twitter to slam the state government for its decision to impose COVID-19 cess on diesel, petrol and other motor spirits. In a 12-part Twitter thread, Zeliang said many have demanded a rollback of government’s “authoritative and misplaced decision”, but the government remained “adamant and deaf to the genuine appeals.”

Drawing attention to the pro-rata cuts of 15% under ‘non- development’ from the budget estimates (BE) of 2020-21, which was recently notified by the state government as part of the austerity measure, Zeliang said if the funds collected from the initiative could be judiciously utilised, there would not be any immediate requirement for another form of tax.
However, he alleged that the state government “as seen in the past” only wanted more from the people, thus imposing COVID-19 cess on petroleum products. “This 15% pro-rata cut would amount to huge numbers, which will all be at the discretion of the finance minister of the state who is also the chief minister,” Zeliang said. In order maintain transparency and accountability, he said total amount accumulated and how it was being utilised should be put in public domain.
Zeliang said that the chief minister gave “absurd reply” when he sought the logic behind imposition of COVID cess on petroleum products at an all-party meeting recently held in Kohima. According to LoP, the chief minister said that cess on fuel was “to tax the rich and help the poor.” “But is it really the case on ground? Arbitrary decision by the finance minister in charge, without any consultation with stakeholders or his Cabinet or for that matter even the Opposition Members, who are giving unconditional support in the fight against COVID19, is very unfortunate and reeks of insincerity in the whole process of taxing the people of the State,” Zeliang said.
LoP said that the poor and weaker section of the society would ultimately bear for the cost of the cess indirectly as prices of commodities would climb up as a result of imposition of COVID cess. 
Further, he asserted that cars were no longer a luxury but necessity, saying people from all walks of life now depend on cars for day to day chores and livelihood. Therefore, Zelaing said the government’s reason that it was taxing the rich to help the poor was “outright lame excuse to cover up their poor policy.” He underlined that the “short-sightedness” of the government policy would further aggravate the already poor economic condition of the state.

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