Cable TV

Kolkata cable ops to meet FM

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KOLKATA: With cable operators liable to pay 12.36 per cent of the subscription amount collected per month from customers as service tax to the government, 12 cable ops met the finance minister P Chidambaram in the city today to talk on Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme (VCES).

Two months ago, indiantelevision.com was the first to report issuing of summons to over 350 city-based cable ops for evasion of service tax for the past five years. We had also reported how service tax officials conducted two raids to probe into alleged financial irregularities of two MSOs.

This, despite the government having introduced the VCES on 10 May. VCES is a one-time amnesty scheme for paying service tax dues for the said five-year period from 1 October 2007 to 31 December, 2012, without any interest or penalty.

Cable Operators Digitalisation Committee of the Association of Cable Operators convener Swapan Chowdhury, confirmed the news saying: “We will discuss the voluntary service tax with the minister.”

A key issue the cable ops plan to discuss is the government’s U-turn on the proposed service tax waiver for operators with turnover of less than Rs 10 lakh per annum. With authorities now saying that as cable ops are selling brands like Manthan and Siticable, they are liable to pay service tax, irrespective of the turnover shown in books, Chowdhury stressed: “We requested the government not to include operators below Rs 10 lakh turnover for service tax payment.”

As the secretary of Cable and Broadband Operators’ Welfare Association, Chowdhury also informed the finance minister that after implementation of DAS in the city, consumers have had to wait for bills and upon not receiving them, remained unwilling to pay service tax to the LCOs.

About the amnesty scheme, which Chidambaram has been urging service tax defaulters to take advantage of, tax consultant Namit Dave said: “By giving up interest, the government wants people to clear their dues.”

Meanwhile, an industry analyst opined that MSOs which have evaded service tax to the tune of Rs 15 crore to Rs 20 crore in the past four years, now have a chance to pay their dues without penalty and prosecution.

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