The government is monitoring people earning over Rs 10 lakh a year who have not given up their cooking gas subsidy. Income tax data was being examined in affluent areas, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told Business Standard.
This year's Economic Survey said Rs 1 lakh crore subsidy was going to the wealthy through kerosene, railways, electricity, cooking gas, gold, jet fuel and small savings schemes. This, it said, was a substantial opportunity forgone to help the deserving.
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The Union Budget 2016-17 imposed an additional 10 per cent tax on dividend income above Rs 10 lakh. Also the tax surcharge on individuals with yearly income of over Rs 1 crore was raised from 12 per cent to 15 per cent. On December 28, the government had decided the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) subsidy would not be available for consumers with taxable incomes of over Rs 10 lakh. This was set rolling with a self-declaration while booking LPG cylinders from January.
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"The voluntary scheme was already in place. Now we have started asking people to provide self-declaration of their income," Pradhan said. He added the affidavits were being sought in Tier I and Tier II cities.
Officials said the oil marketing companies had provided data to the income tax department, which matched it to weed out consumers who earned more than Rs 10 lakh.
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Text messages were sent to around 300,000 identified consumers after a month-long exercise.
Over 10,000 people have declared their income voluntarily.
Of the country's 29 million taxpayers, two million earn over Rs 10 lakh a year. "The question is should these two million individuals receive the LPG subsidy when nine million have already surrendered theirs?" asked Pradhan.
The government had last year appealed to the well-heeled to give up their LPG subsidy. So far, nine million consumers have opted out.
The petroleum ministry went through the list of LPG consumers in affluent areas and found only three per cent of people earning over Rs 10 lakh a year had surrendered their LPG subsidy. "It was then that we planned to have these persons surrender their subsidy through an affidavit," said Pradhan. There are 163.5 million LPG consumers in the country and the cooking gas subsidy is being transferred directly into the bank accounts of 147.8 million of them.