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Panchayats in the dark over loss of octroi revenue

Margao: Panchayats in the state will henceforth have to give up their hopes of obtaining revenue in the form of octroi, as octroi has been merged with the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Octroi is a tax, which is charged by the local authority and panchayats collected it from the petroleum companies whose fuel stations are located in the jurisdiction of the respective panchayats.

Many panchayats are also not aware of the new development and claim that they were not informed of the merger of octroi into GST.

“We have not been informed by the directorate of panchayats. It is the duty of the BDO (block development officer) and the directorate of panchayats to issue a circular informing all the panchayats that they would not be further entitled to octroi, as it has now been merged with the GST,” said a sarpanch.

In the absence of any intimation, many panchayats have been making provision in their annual budget vis-à-vis the octroi and also planning accordingly. The panchayats are also claiming that they are yet to receive octroi, which has been pending since couple of years.  

Sarpanch of Camorlim panchayat, which is located in Salcete taluka, Basilio Fernandes became upset on learning that his panchayat would not get revenue in the form of octroi. He said that his panchayat has been mostly dependent on the octroi.

“I think the government is trying to do away with the panchayats, step by step. Otherwise, why did the directorate of panchayats not inform the panchayat secretaries or the sarpanchas about this change?” he questioned.

Camorlim panchayat collected over Rs 5 lakh annually in the form of octroi.

An official of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) Rahul Bhardwaj said the company is regularly paying octroi to the government. He said IOCL has 16 petrol pumps in South Goa. Anand Swarup of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) said that his organisation has never kept octroi pending. “We have in all 17 petrol pumps in South Goa,’’ he said.

When director of panchayats Narayan Gad was contacted, he confirmed that octroi has been merged with GST by the government and that the panchayats will not get it in future. When pointed out that the panchayats have not been informed about this, he said he has recently taken over as the director of panchayats and added that he will look into it by contacting the BDOs concerned.

Earlier, octroi was directly being paid by the oil companies to the panchayats and the state government was not involved in any manner. Panchayats collected lakhs of rupees as income in the form of octroi. However, around five to seven years back, the state government started collecting octroi directly from the petroleum companies and the panchayats were given a minor share of it. Today, this small percentage is also being denied to the grassroots level bodies, making their survival difficult.

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