NITI Ayog Suggestion On Agri Income Tax Flayed
Amaravati: The NITI Ayog’s move to tax the agriculture income had come under sharp criticism from the farmers’ leaders. The leaders and experts termed the move as an attempt to punish the law abiding people, while allowing the violators escape.
Former Member of Indian Council for Agricultural Research M V N Nagi Reddy took strong exception to the move to tax the farmers on their income. He wondered how the government would tax the farmers when they are not assured of the minimum support prices. Stating that the Indian average land holding is less than 2 hectors, he pointed out that most of the farmers have no minimum guaranteed income. He said that Swaminathan Commission had recommended that the farmers income should be equal to that of the income of an IAS officer. “We are not asking for income equal to the IAS officer. We want the government to give revenue equal to at least a clerk in the government office. But, we don’t even have the income equal to that of the attender,” he said.
Former minister and farmers’ leader Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao termed the NITI Ayog move as an attempt to discourage agriculture in the country. While accepting the fact that some business persons and others who have excess income were purchasing lands and showing their income as agriculture revenue, he wanted the government to tap such sources. He wanted the government to nab the tax evaders and not punish the farmers. He felt that the government could find people, investigate into their claims on agriculture and fix the taxes rather than taxing the farmers in general. He said that the earnings of the farmers are mostly a result of their hard work against the odds, including nature and market fluctuations. He sought to advise the government to drop the proposal and help the farming sector.
Another veteran farmers’ leader Yerneni Nagendranath, wanted the government to identify people who were projecting their income from agriculture. He said no farmer in the country was able to get taxable income while several others who have no connection with agriculture were escaping tax payments. He alleged that the corrupt people were exploiting the tax exemption provisions for the agriculture and wanted the government to punish such people rather than taxing the entire agriculture.