Centre changes tack on LPG subsidy campaign


New Delhi:- The central  government seems to have given up on the Give It Up Campaign for LPG cylinders and has begun debarring LPG users who earn more than Rs. 10 lakh a year from the subsidy starting from their next refill.

“Since your income is above 10 lacs, LPG subsidy is not admissible as per govt directive. Pl submit a declaration to distributor if your income is below 10 lacs,” LPG distributors have started informing taxpayers through SMS.

Over the past week, thousands of taxpayers have received such SMSs from their distributors, pointing out their income status and the ineligibility for further subsidies. “We gave a message for voluntary declaration of income of more than Rs. 10 lakh a year,” Ashutosh Jindal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, told The Hindu. “In the meantime, we were able to identify around 3 lakh people with an income of more than Rs. 10 lakh. The Income Tax Department did this for us. So, we sent them SMSs that we have identified them and their subsidy will be removed.”

‘We can’t wait for people to come forward and declare’

The government has decided to charge the full unsubsidised price of cooking gas to all customers who earn more than Rs.10 lakh a year as the voluntary scheme has not yielded the desired results.

“We can’t keep waiting for people to come forward and declare,” Ashutosh Jindal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas told The Hindu.

“So, we are trying to use a different matching technology to find out. And if we can verify that their income is more than Rs. 10 lakh, the same action will be taken.”

The Centre had notified Rs. 10 lakh as the cut-off annual income for LPG subsidy in late December, but urged people earning more to give it up voluntarily.

Data from the Ministry show 85.24 lakh people have given up their LPG subsidy voluntarily.

The back of the envelop calculations peg the total savings from this at Rs. 965 crore.

“Essentially, under the Income Tax Act, there is a provision of confidentiality but that applies to only non-governmental agencies,” Dinesh Kanabar, CEO, Dhruva Advisors, told The Hindu.

“As for companies, there is a constant sharing of information between customs and income tax. That kind of sharing happens all over the world.”

The Income Tax Department is well within its right to provide the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas information on people earning more than Rs. 10 lakh a year, Mr. Kanabar said.

“They can say that, as per tax returns, these people earn more than Rs. 10 lakh. They cannot, however, divulge the exact income these people are earning since that is not relevant.”

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