New Delhi, India (BBN)-As 99 stall owners from Pakistan and Bangladesh packed their wares on the last day of the India International Trade Fair, they faced a curious situation.
The Delhi government had issued notices to all of them, along with a Rs 50,000 penalty, reports The Indian Express.
The notice, issued by the Delhi government’s department of trade and taxes, stated that the stall owners had failed to obtain the mandatory casual registration number required to participate in the trade fair.
The stall owners, on the other hand, argued that to register online, they needed a PAN card, which none of them possessed.
The situation escalated further when the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO)- the managing body of all traders participating in the fair- refused to let some of them leave and denied them gate passes.
The ITPO claimed that the trade and taxes department had slapped a Rs 55 lakh fine on them as well.
“On November 26, they asked us to pay Rs 55 lakh when none of the traders complied with the penalty notice. We will not issue them gate passes, so they won’t be able to take their goods out of the premises,” said a senior ITPO official.
ITPO chairman L C Goyal, meanwhile, said the matter would be resolved soon.
“We had made it clear to traders. They all knew about the rules. Also, if a problem between the department and the traders arises, we will sort it out. It is not such a big matter,” he said.
According to the department of trade and taxes, it was the ITPO’s responsibility, as the organiser of the trade fair, to inform and manage the PAN card issue with traders.
“If the traders do not pay the penalty, we will not issue them a no-objection certificate and the onus is on the ITPO to pay the penalty,” said a senior government official.
The government notice to traders reads: “Whereas I am satisfied that the dealer has the liability to pay penalty under section 86 (21) of Delhi Value Added Tax Act, 2004 for the following reasons: The dealer has failed to obtain casual registration number w.e.f from 14-11-2015 till date.
Now therefore the dealer is hereby directed to pay an amount of Rs 50,000…on or before Rs 25-11-2015.”
Of the 99 traders, 21 are from Bangladesh and the rest from Pakistan.
“This is the first time in 25 years that something like this has happened. We used to pay taxes every year as VAT duty, but this year the process was changed without our knowledge,” said Faisal Joseph, assistant secretary of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, heading the Pakistani traders’ delegation to the trade fair.
“This Rs 50,000 penalty is unfair. When we sat down to register online, they asked for a PAN card number. But we are foreigners. How can we have PAN cards? The registration process does not proceed to the next step if the PAN card number is not entered. So all traders just travelled to India without the registration,” said Salam from Bangladesh, who manned a clothes stall.