GUWAHATI, July 14 � Evasion of tax and forest royalty has become a major cause of concern for Assam. Though the Bureau of Investigation of Economic Offences (BIEO) of the Assam Police managed to detect some such evasions, those were tips of the iceberg and it is up to the concerned departments to be more vigilant to improve the financial health of the State.
Of course, in recent times, the detection of evasion of tax and forest royalty by the BIEO has increased, which proved that large scale evasion has been going on in the State. But the Bureau does not have adequate manpower to check all such cases of evasion and it takes up cases only on the basis of the inputs received by it. Moreover, over the years, the State government has also not taken adequate steps to strengthen the Bureau and even the existing posts remained vacant for a long period.
In the year 2013-14, the BIEO detected tax evasion amounting to Rs 2.60 crore and several major irregularities were detected. This was a much improved performance by the Bureau, which detected evasion amounting to Rs 40 lakh in the previous financial year. But it is an established fact that the Bureau cannot be expected to detect all cases of tax evasion and the Tax Department of the State Government will have to play a more pro-active role to detect such irregularities to boost the coffers of the State Government.
In the last financial year, the BIEO detected forest royalty evasion amounting to Rs 17 crore compared to detection of Rs 9 crore in the previous year. Unfortunately, one of the major case of evasion was by contractors of the NF Railway as some contractors engaged in the gauge conversion work did not pay the royalty for the forest produce used in the work to the State Forest Department. In fact, the Bureau is planning a special drive to detect such evasion of royalty on forest produce in the days to come.
Similarly, the selling of essential food items meant to be distributed through the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the open market is another major problem in the State because of the failure of the Food and Civil Supplies Department to take effective steps to check it. In the last financial year, the Bureau seized PDS items worth Rs 110 lakh from the open market and in the previous year, goods worth Rs 78 lakh were seized. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous persons are even involved in selling rice allotted for the mid day meal scheme for school children in the open market. The BIEO is investigating a few such cases, while, two truck loads of rice were also seized in Goalpara district.
The BIEO is also investigating into a number of cases against fake non banking financial institutions and filed charge sheets in eight cases against owners of companies like Jeevan Suraksha, Rangdhali, Idol India, Alliance Vision etc.