The Punjab Excise and Taxation Department has expedited the issuance of value added tax (VAT) refunds to traders and industrialists in the state.
While the Congress has termed it a poll gimmick, the department claims it is due to the implementation of a transparent system they have been working on for the last couple of years.
A few years ago, the department had VAT refunds worth over Rs 500 crore pending and the amount kept on piling with a few refunds issued to traders and industrialists.
The outstanding amount has come down to less than Rs 250 crore and is set to be even lesser by the end of this fiscal. Excise officials say as on January 1, 2014, VAT refunds amounting to more than Rs 506 crore were pending, but now only half of it is pending with seven months to this fiscal.
Rajat Aggarwal, Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Punjab, said: “We have been gradually improving our efficiency to issue VAT refunds given the fact that it is done only after thorough scrutiny. The overall percentage has gone up over the years.”
The Congress has termed the move an attempt to woo the trader community ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled to be held next year.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee senior vice-president and former Finance Minister Lal Singh alleged that the government was selling properties to influence industrialists ahead of the elections.
“The government kept the industry waiting for the past nine years and now they talk of clearing all VAT refunds by the end of this fiscal,” he said.