Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa revenue collection target may not be achieved if staff crunch is not removed. Ms. Rajalaxmi, Principal Secretary of Commerce & Transport Department apprised the Finance Minister of this when he took up a revenue of revenue collection in the State Secretariat last afternoon.

In the name of reform, the state Government has curtailed majority basic posts and all of the field offices are facing severe staff crunch.

However it transpired that that the C&T Department, under Ms. Rajlaxmi, has collected tax worth Rs.84.97 crore out of the target of 400 crore by end of June. Similarly collection by Excise is 66.16 crore as against target of 500 crore.

The Commercial Tax Department, which works under the Finance Minister himself has also not been able to reach the target. It has collected 515 crore by June end out of the target of 3000 crore. It was targeted to collect 445 crore from entry tax; but the collection is only 76 crore.

A sample of what happens:

If we look at a recent vigilance raid at Baragarh, a district headqrs. Town of western Orissa, how the Finance Department Officers are hand in glove with tax evaders will come to notice.

Despite departmental check gates in the border, a black market operator was importing several truck loads of consumer goods everyday and hording them in a building that looks uncared for from outside. He has many clients to whom the imported goods were eventually supplied. This operation was going on safely for years. The Commercial Tax officers were giving him full protection and the man was never taken to task for evasion of tax. Getting clue from a source, the C.T. wing of the Vigilance department placed at Sambalpur, raided the spot in the early hours of July 27 and unearthed huge tax evasion. The horded commodities were scrutinized and a sum of Rs. 2,00,05,737/- was clamped on the operator as unpaid tax.

But the most astounding development is that the manager of the operator has been booked as all the goods are imported in his name. He is Sushil, a poor man who works for the clandestine operator. The Commercial Tax officers know this operator. But they don’t reveal his name. They don’t take any action against him. Their allegiance to this operator is so very solid that they have already received this heavy amount exceeding 2 crore from Sushil and thereby succeeded in providing required seal to the offender.

It is not that there is no way to find out the real offender. Sushil has no financial stamina to pay forthwith a sum of money that exceed two crore. Where from he brought this heavy amount to deposit forthwith?

This question can easily lead investigation to the real culprit. But, all higher-ups in the Finance department including the Minister show reluctance to poke their nose into it.

No wonder a junior Commercial Tax Officer, who takes home Rs.7500/- only as salary every month, was found by vigilance in a recent raid to have accumulated around a crore of Rupees beyond known source of income.

Will the Minister come out of the cocoon of revues in the chambers of the Secretariat and steer the Bargarh case out of the files of the local CTO in order to find out who the real tax evader is?

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