Around 50 barge owners have not paid approximately Rs 1.8 crore in the form of tax as per the Goa Barge Tax Act to the government in the last three to four years, data available with the captain of ports department has revealed.
A senior official of the department explained that the tax levied on the barges differs from vessel to vessel depending on their tonnage capacity.
A decision was taken by the state government to go soft on collecting the tax from barge owners as they have been severely affected by the closure of the iron ore mining, the official said, clarifying that some of them have managed to pay 30-20 per cent of the total pending tax amount.
Minister for Ports Michael Lobo said the government is considering waiving the payment of the barge tax and soon Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take a final call on the matter.
“The government has waived the payment of the road tax of trucks from the mining belt… We are also considering waiving the payment of the barge tax… the file has been moved to Chief Minister’s Office. We will consider it… we will either give concession or waive it completely,” said Lobo while addressing the gathering after launching the first oil spill collection vessel at the Captain of Ports jetty in Panaji.
Emphasising on the urgent need for reviving the state economy by resolving the mining tangle, the Ports Minister said the message is loud and clear: the Mandovi has been waiting for the passage of ore carrying barges and Goans affected by the mining closure have also been waiting to get back their daily bread and butter.
Atul Jadhav, a barge owner, said that since 2015-16 hardly any cargo moved out. Hence they have not been able to pay the barge tax to the government.
“If we don’t earn then it is not possible for us to pay the barge tax. And by waiving taxes, the government will not incur huge losses as they have earned from e-auction of ore,” he said.
Lobo said that he will request the Chief Minister to visit Delhi after the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana to meet the group of ministers to pursue Goa’s mining matter.
“Our state treasury has been in a big trouble. A decision on the mining tangle has to come at the earliest… the decision has to be taken in such a way that there will be no further legal tangle. It has to be a win-win situation on the lines of the order passed by the apex court. The order should not get challenged in the top court,” the minister hoped.