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Nirmala Sitharaman criticizes BRS Govt for levying 125% tax on defence canteen stores

Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference at BJP media centre, in Hyderabad on November 21, 2023.

Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference at BJP media centre, in Hyderabad on November 21, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday criticized the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) Government for levying a 125% tax on defence canteen stores in Telangana and urged the affected personnel to walk down to the State Secretariat demanding its reduction.

“I am shocked at this hefty tax. It is a brazen attack against our defence personnel and their families. Are you not going to question this government? Send a strong message by not voting for the ruling party,” she told a gathering of ex-servicemen and their families at Vayupuri and urged them to vote for the party veteran and former MLC N. Ramchander Rao contesting from the Malkajgiri Assembly constituency.

“While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is thinking about the welfare of armed forces personnel and ex-servicemen all the time, we have a government here levying a 125% tax on defence personnel buying their daily essential provisions like flour, oil, shampoo or suitcases. We are not levying such a tax in GST. What should we make of it in levying such a tax on those ready to sacrifice their lives for the nation?” she wondered aloud.

The Finance Minister said liquor and fuel can also be made available at reasonable rates if they are brought under the GST (Goods & Services Tax) but the Telangana Government is among those states that had refused to do so to mop up more revenue from the people.

Ms. Sitharaman, speaking in a mix of English, Hindi and Telugu languages to cater to the diverse audience, accused the BRS Government of pushing a revenue surplus ‘golden’ State with a well developed Hyderabad city into deep debt, putting a burden on the next two generations.

“Instead of focusing on development, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has diverted funds meant for the people, to benefit his family and his party. Investments will, anyway, keep flowing due to the Centre’s policies and due to the fantastic atmosphere created by 2014. Yet, he has been claiming credit. KCR has the dubious distinction of converting a revenue surplus State into a revenue deficit,” she charged.

The Union Minister also explained the various welfare schemes and development initiatives taken up by the Modi Government in the last nine years like the OROP which had benefitted 20.6 lakh pensioners of the 25 lakh, dedicated pension grievance cell with 97% disposal, medical grants and so on.

“There was no defence procurement for 10 years prior to 2014 and as soon as Mr. Modi took over, we went for the procurement of bulletproof jackets and also facilitated the government-to-government Rafael fighter plane deal, which was politicized later,” she claimed.

Earlier in the morning, Ms. Sitharaman campaigned in Jubilee Hills for party candidate L. Deepak Reddy where she accused the BRS Party of neglecting the common people and forgetting the promises made. “KCR removed the Telangana word from his party’s name and is now talking about it. Do we need a party which cannot utilise funds sanctioned due to family rule?,” she questioned.

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