400 unanswered questions, no expenditure report: Satheesan targets govt over tax administration

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V D Satheesan | Photo: PTI

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF opposition in the Kerala assembly on Wednesday charged that the ruling LDF was scared of adjournment motions and that is why it did not want to discuss the issue of alleged mismanagement in the implementation and collection of GST and other taxes by the government.

The accusation was made by the UDF opposition as it walked out of the House following the denial of permission by the Speaker, A N Shamseer, for the notice moved by them to discuss the issue of alleged tax mismanagement in the state. The Speaker, right at the outset, denied permission for it saying that the issue has been raised and debated several times in the House and was not regarding some recent event or incident. He, however, said that MLA Roji M John, who moved the adjournment motion, can raise it as a submission in the assembly.

Protesting against the same, Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly V D Satheesan said the issue raised was never before discussed in the House as they never received any data regarding it from the government. The issue we have raised was not part of the budget discussion and is concerning the loss of Rs 25,000 crore to the state under IGST, the LoP claimed.

It did not come up during the budget discussion, the expenditure report has not yet been made available and the state Finance Minister K N Balagopal has not answered around 400 unstarred questions regarding it raised in the previous three sessions of the House, Satheesan said. We had to collect the information on our own regarding this issue which has serious implications for the state, he added.

The LoP was not allowed to continue speaking, briefly, leading to several UDF MLAs leaving their seats and trooping into the well of the House in protest. Subsequently, when he was permitted to resume speaking, Satheesan said the aim of the opposition to raise the issue was for a healthy discussion in the House where everyone's suggestions can be heard for improving the tax administration of the state and increasing its tax revenue. "So if we cannot hold discussions like this, what is the legislature for?" he asked.

Satheesan further said, "The government was in an embarrassing position right now as it was scared of Rule 50 notices (for adjournment motions). We are strongly protesting against the government stand and walking out."

Balagopal, in response to the opposition allegations, said that the government was ready to discuss the issue raised, but there was no need for moving an adjournment motion for it. He said that for the entire month of March, the assembly would be discussing financial matters and added that Kerala's tax administration has improved considerably. PTI

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