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Punjab govt proposes law on outdoor advertising, decision to tax cable, DTH subs pending

NEW DELHI: Not content with exploring additional local taxes on cable and DTH connections in the state of Punjab, minister Navjot Singh Sidhu now wants to bring in a policy to increase the state government’s revenue from outdoor advertising.

Sidhu, a cricketer-turned-TV personality-turned politician who’s a minister in the Congress Party-run local government in Punjab, wants to bring a new and "potent" policy to increase the state government's annual revenue from outdoor advertising to at least Rs 3,000 million, according to a report filed by PTI, which added that the local bodies minister blamed the previous SAD- BJP government for causing "revenue leakage" by framing a "toothless" law in this regard.

Punjab is earning a meager amount of Rs 250 million annually from outdoor advertising and hoardings in 164 cities of the state as compared to Rs 2,000 million being earned by neighboring Haryana from its municipal areas, Sidhu told PTI.

The flamboyant Sidhu, who also spends time on the sets of a comedy show when he’s not proposing to bring in new legislations in Punjab, told PTI that the state had suffered a loss of Rs 2,00,00 million from the cable business.

Sidhu has proposed to levy a token amount of entertainment tax to keep a check on the "cable mafia", which, he alleged, had "proliferated under the previous (political) dispensation".

He also hit out at the previous government for allegedly "looting" the state by facilitating individuals in the outdoor advertising and the cable businesses, and framing laws that benefitted “vested interests”.

"After an inquiry, following a complaint, I came to know that the government cannot levy a penalty despite the violation of the advertisement law. They (the previous government) made toothless laws which facilitated only individuals," PTI quoted the local minister as saying who also added that the present regime’s aim was to raise an annual revenue between Rs 250 million to Rs 3000 million from advertisements in municipal areas.

Laws are being drafted on outdoor advertising and cable businesses in consultation with experts in order to increase the state’s revenue by 10 times, Sidhu said, adding that his department has submitted a proposal to chief minister Amrinder Singh in which a token tax of Rs 2 to Rs 3 (per cable and DTH connection) could be levied (as entertainment tax) to check malpractices in the cable TV distribution business.

However, sources in the Punjab government told indiantelevision.com that the chief minister has not taken any decision on the proposed entertainment tax on cable and DTH connections as the levying of an additional tax over and above the recently rolled out federal government-mandated GST (goods and services tax) may complicate the tax structure. India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley, though, has clarified earlier that states can levy entertainment tax if they so wish.

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