Parliamentary panel questions service tax exemption for Haj private tour operators

By: | Published: April 3, 2017 5:03 PM

A Parliamentary panel has questioned exemption given to Haj private tour operators (PTOs) from paying service tax.

Haj, Parliamentary Panel, PTO, Maharashtra, Lok Sabha, Ramesh Bais, A total of 1.35 lakh devotees undertook Haj pilgrimage to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) last year from 21 embarkation points in the country.(AP)

A Parliamentary panel has questioned exemption given to Haj private tour operators (PTOs) from paying service tax. The standing committee on social justice and empowerment has in its 39th report suggested the government to consider imposition of the tax on the PTOs and also make the operators share details of their annual turnover. The panel also wondered why 183 of the total 484 PTOs in the country were registered from Maharashtra alone, suggesting it created “monopoly” of the operators from the state. On the other hand, it pointed out, Jharkhand has only one PTO with a quota of 50 seats.

“The committee does not understand why these PTOs are exempted from paying service tax,” the panel, headed by Lok Sabha MP Ramesh Bais, has said in its report.

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It added, “The committee desires that imposition of service tax on the PTOs may be considered under the Tax and other Laws as is done in case of other agencies/organisations/ tour operators etc., and they may also be asked to furnish their annual turnover.”The committee’s report titled ‘Demands for Grants (2017-18) of the Ministry of Minority Affairs’ was submitted to both the Houses of the Parliament last month.

On maximum registration of PTOs in Maharashtra, the panel noted such “monopoly” causes inconvenience to Haj applicants as they have to travel all the way to that state.

To address the issue, the panel suggested that private operators are registered from smaller states too.

“Needless to say, the committee desires that if need be, the quota of PTOs may also be increased,” it recommended.

A total of 1.35 lakh devotees undertook Haj pilgrimage to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) last year from 21 embarkation points in the country. Of these, 99,903 pilgrims proceeded through Haj Committee of India. Rest proceeded through PTOs.

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