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Press statement by Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad 29-4-2017

The Anti-Farmer face of BJP Govt stands EXPOSED !

Modi Government Backstabbing the 'Annadata' of India by Advocating 'Tax' on Agriculture

The Indian Farmer is Already Burdened by Debt, Subsidy Cuts and High Indirect Taxes. Why does the BJP  Government  want to Increase their miseries?



Farmers of India have paid the biggest price of electing a Bharatiya Janata Party Government.

Since the past 35 months- the BJP Government has taken several anti-farmer steps. Be it the betrayal of PM Shri Modi's solemn promise of 'MSP +50% Profit' or by waiving of import duty on food grains in order to benefit businessmen friends. Now important Government officials including the Prime Minister's Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) are advocating an 'Income Tax' on Agriculture and Farming.

 

Firs, this year's Economic Survey advocated to levy taxation on Agriculture. 3 days ago, NITI Aayog Member, Shri Bibek Debroy stated that Agriculture Income should be brought under tax ambit. He said "the eventual answer to expanding the base on the personal income tax other than elimination of exemptions is also to tax the rural sector including agricultural income above a certain threshold.”

And Now none other than, PM's Chief Economic Advisor, Shri Arvind Subramanian has joined the chorus of taxing farmers. He said "the legal situation was such that nothing prevented state governments from taxing agricultural income, though there was a constitutional restriction on the central government to impose such a tax. It is a choice that the 29 state governments have to make and if there are willing takers for this — all power to them”.

Earlier opposing the farm loan waiver, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Shri Urjit Patel stated that "Farm loan waivers are a bad idea, which undermines credit discipline”. SBI Chief, Arundhati Bhattacharya had also earlier echoed the same.  

 

The complete apathy and insensitivity of the BJP Government which is trying to impose tax on farmers through the backdoor is exposed by the fact that even though the Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley tried to contradict Shri Debroy's proposal, the CEA wholeheartedly supports taxing farmers.

Contrary to the actual conditions of the farmers across the country, the BJP Government initiated a discussion about the  low  tax to GDP ratio of 16.6% in India vis a vis the emerging market economies of 21%- ignoring the plight of monsoon dependent, drought, low yield, hail, cyclone ridden farmers of India.

The Government has been heartlessly pursuing the case of expanding the tax ambit. Earlier, the BJP Government in its agenda to increase taxes, further percolated the same discussion in Niti Ayog that ideally the Government should consider taxing agricultural income, beginning with a proposal to target farmers with non-agricultural income above a certain threshold. This was one of the specific suggestions made by tax officers to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at a two-day conference of tax administrators, 'Rajasva Gyan Sangam' . It was pitched as a low-hanging fruit that could potentially bolster ongoing efforts to widen the country's taxpayer base.

 They had proposed a three year action plan and the farm income to be taxed as a three year average in an attempt to tax net widening exercise indicating that there should be no distinction between urban and rural farmers.

In this context, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister should answer three simple questions:-

1)  The farmers of India pay a lot of indirect taxes including, in the form of Excise Duty and VAT on Diesel. In the past 3 years, the Central Excise Duty on Diesel has been increased by a whopping 380%

When UPA was in power, in May 2014, excise duty on diesel was Rs 3.56/litre. Today under BJP rule it stands at Rs 17.33/litre

 

Several BJP ruled State Governments have a very high percentage of VAT on Diesel and thereby already taxing the farmers indirectly.

 

 

Madhya Pradesh has the highest VAT  at 31.50%

Gujarat has put a VAT of 28.96%

Chhattisgarh has a VAT of 27.14%

 

Farmers already are heavily taxed indirectly; Why does the BJP want an additional tax on their income now? The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister should answer this question.

 

2) The Government is exploring with the idea of withdrawing Fertilizer Subsidy and is not providing adequate Minimum Support Price to the farmers on their produce. Now, they want to punish the farmers by making them pay Income Tax.

Shri Modi should come out in open and justify this dual burdening of farmers. Will the PM give us this justification?

 

3)  Unfortunately this year, there is widespread distress amongst the farmers of the country, we are witnessing how the Tamil Nadu farmers are continuously agitating in Delhi's Jantar Mantar for months now and their cries have fallen on deaf ears. The latest report from the National Crime Records Bureau (2015) states that - 12,602 people involved in the farming sector have committed suicide in 2015.

 

Does the BJP think that it is appropriate to tax such heavily debt ridden farmers who have no choice but to die of hunger and commit suicide?

 

The Indian National Congress  entirely rejects this proposition of taxing farmers and bringing Agricultural Income into the Tax ambit. We will oppose this idea tooth and nail and will take on the Government this idea on every available public forum.

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