Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday announced the abolition of toll posts, including at Lakhanpur along Jammu-Pathankot highway, a move that will lead to a loss of Rs 1,500 crore to the exchequer annually.
The decision of the abolishment of the toll tax from the New Year was welcomed by traders while industrialists termed the withdrawal of toll tax as a “Black Death Warrant for J&K Industrial Sector”. Announcing the decision at a press conference here, Principal Secretary, planning, monitoring and development Rohit Kansal said the government has decided to set up a High Powered Committee under the chairmanship of Advisor KK Sharma to interact with various stakeholders and to suggest measures to improve the competitiveness of the local industry.
“The administration has decided to abolish toll tax at Lakhanpur and all other posts including at Railway Stations and Airports with effect from January 1, 2020. The abolition of the toll tax will lead to an annual loss of around Rs 1,500 crore to the UT coffers annually,” he said.
In February, the administration had constituted a committee to examine the level of toll tax being levied on various products entering Jammu and Kashmir, production and export of locally produced products and modification, if any, as may be needed in the levy of toll tax.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Levy of Tolls Act, the government of Jammu and Kashmir hereby directs that the toll post set up at Lakhanpur, district Kathua under the provisions of the Act, shall cease to operate with effect from January 1, 2020,” Financial Commissioner Arun Kumar Mehta said in the notification.
Earlier on February 6, 2018, the then Jammu and Kashmir government had abolished two major toll posts at Lower Munda along Jammu-Srinagar Highway in Anantnag district and Borehallan-Heerpur along Mughal road in Shopian district.
Reacting to the decision, President Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries Rakesh Gupta said the Lakhanpur Excise Toll levy was not less than a “Jizya tax” since 1995 that continued even after the implementation of GST in 2017.
“It will be a big sigh of relief to the common consumers from whose pockets this tax was being pick pocketed. The uninterrupted movement of goods shall result in less logistics cost and save time too,” he said.
However, Jammu-based Bari Brahmana Industries Association (BBIA) raised serious concern over the decision, terming it as an attempt to “destroy” the Industrial sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The withdrawal of the toll tax will prove as a ‘Black Death Warrant’ for J&K Industrial Sector”, BBIA said appealing the Lt Governor to review the decision.