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Stop multi-billion tax sops to corporates and rich: Left
Wed, 23 Feb 2011 09:19:38 GMT
NEW DELHI: Expressing disquiet over "loot" of public money, CPI-M on Wednesday demanded that concessions worth several lakhs of rupees to corporates and high-end taxpayers should be stopped, and used for narrowing the rich-poor gap.

Resuming the discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of thanks to the President for her address to Parliament, Sitaram Yechury said two Indias are in the making - IPL India and BPL (Below Poverty Line) India.

Asking the government to shift policy directions, he said living conditions of the people have "abysmally" deteriorated as multi-billion tax concessions (worth Rs 2,25,000 crore) have been been given to corporates and high-end tax payers.

"If these tax concession had been collected and invested in food security and health, we would have generated employment-demand and growth," he said, adding that petrol prices have been revised seven times in the last eight months.

As much as Rs 2,22,000 crore is being collected as taxes from the petroleum sector.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent remark over comparison between sops to the telecom sector and the subsidy to the poor, Yechury said the "argument is bogus."

He wondered how incentives for big business houses were good but subsidy on food was detrimental for growth, as was being pointed out.

Referring to the 2G telecom scam, he said, "You have chosen not to tax the corporates but the scam lies in the fact that the licenses were sold at least six times their value within six months."

He said if the government had agreed for a Joint Parliamentary Committee earlier, the Winter session of Parliament could have been saved. He said the Opposition demanded JPC "to examine how the system was so manipulated to allow such scams."

While the UPA Government keeps talking about inclusive growth, it was "doing exactly the opposite" by allowing inflation to increase by encouraging policies like futures and "speculative" trading of essential commodities.

On the argument from the Congress benches that the Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss pointed out by the CAG should be treated "notional", Yechury said it was because the government chose not to collect the spectrum and licensing charges at fair market rates.

This money, being described as notional loss, could have been adequate to finance 35 kg subsidised foodgrain to over 80 percent of the total households.

Alternatively, this could have funded schemes like right to education and healthcare for all, he said.
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