Forest department levies tax on every betel leaves

Pothashang News Service: Imphal, June 4, 2019: Forest department has resumed to collect taxes on betel leaves from today against the order of High Court of Manipur.
The tax collection was resumed today following an order issued by principal chief conservator of forest and HoFF Manipur yesterday. The order challenging the common judgment and order passed by the High Court of Manipur issued on April 10.
The order of the chief conservat directed to levy of royalty and other chargeable on transportation of betel leaves on June 3.
The forest department  started collecting taxes on betel leaves from today by counting each single leaves at Imphal International Airport.
The high court of Manipur passed its order to include betel leaves as horticulture product despite of the order to include betel leaves as forest products issued by additional chief secretary, under secretary and joint secretary of the department of forest and environment on different dates.
It is said that betel leaf is said to be a horticulture product and a perishable item which was not included in the list of forest product in the state of Manipur. Plantation of the betel leafs as horticulture items for more than four hectares of land have been seen in Kakching and at Noney as well as Jiribam.
In the notification of ministry of finance on June 28, 2017 where certain goods of Inter-state supplies are exempted from the purview of the central goods and services Tax Act 2017, the betel leafs were shown in serial number 93.
Therefore, any kind of goods and service taxes cannot be levied on betel leafs. Imposition and levying of VAT on betel leafs will be an illegal tax collection.
Speaking to media on the sideline while counting betel leaves at Imphal Tulihal Airport, deputy ranger of forest, Laishram Borkumar said the tax was also collected earlier but with approximate values which are about Rs 8,700 per bundle of betel leaves. Business persons are bringing excess number of betel leaves in order to get more profit on their business. In order bring accuracy and transparency forest department has started to collect taxes by counting each single leaves, he added.
He said on average about 40 to 50 bundles of betel leaves are imported in the state through air whereas many bundles are also importing through land route. Collection of taxes is started from today under the instruction of Principal Chief Conservator of forest and HoFF, Manipur.
He said all the betel leaves are imported without tax and department have certain order to collect tax in the state, due to the reason department starts to collect taxes. He said he do not have ideas of procedure of taxes for the betel leaves imported through land route.
Borkumar further said forest department are charging 10 paise per betel leaves and for today 55 bundles are imported at the airport. Collection of taxes by counting single leaves will continued until further order is issued, he added.
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