Rs 2,600 crore tax evasion by cable firm: Punjab Minister

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Chandigarh, July 6 (IANS) Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday accused a private cable television company allegedly patronised by the Badal family of evading service tax totalling Rs 2,600 crore, and said it would be penalised.

The company, which monopolised business during the previous Shiromani Akali Dal rule from 2007-2017, had “under-declared” its network to evade taxes, the Minister for Local Government, Culture and Tourism told the media here.

Sidhu said his department will impose taxes and a heavy penalty on the company.

“I have issued directions to the department to impose taxes and penalty on the cable TV company. We will not spare anyone. The company is the mastermind of corruption,” the former cricketer said.

Sidhu earlier alleged that the company had caused a loss of Rs 700 crore to the Punjab exchequer.

The Akali Dal government was accused of patronising Fastway cable company and PTC News Channel, which was owned by Akali Dal President and former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife and Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, during the party’s decade-long rule in Punjab.

No other Punjabi news channel was allowed to establish itself in Punjab.

The Congress, which returned to power in Punjab in March, had promised it will end the company’s monopoly of cable and news channel business.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said action would be taken against the cable TV company if charges of tax law violations are found true.

Reiterating his government’s commitment to provide level-playing field to TV channels and cable operators, and encouraging a healthy competition among them, the Chief Minister said he would not indulge in vendetta politics but ensure that “whosoever is found guilty of any tax violations or any other act against the law of the land is penalised or otherwise acted against”.

–IANS

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