• Domestic gas users in major cities need income proof for subsidy claim

    Consumers in Tier-I and II cities will have to submit affidavits to their LPG distributors stating that their annual income is below Rs.10 lakh to continue to receive cooking gas subsidy, according to Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.“In the Tier-I and Tier-II cities, when somebody comes to refill gas, they are asked to sign an affidavit regarding their income,” the Minister said.

    “It is a matter of trust. We have to trust our people, and they are trustworthy. I didn’t believe that 1 crore people would give up their subsidy, but they did.”

    One crore people
    While over one crore people have given up LPG subsidy over the past year, an extensive government survey in the most affluent areas of metropolitan cities has revealed that only three per cent of its residents had done so.“We did a market survey of one lakh well-to-do localities in the metros, ones where the proportion of people earning Rs.10 lakh or more would be high — South Delhi, South Mumbai, South Bangalore, Salt Lake City in Kolkata, parts of Pune and Chennai,” Mr.Pradhan told The Hindu. “Only 3 per cent of these people had given up their LPG subsidy.”

    In March this year, the government sought to use Income Tax records to identify high income earners and sent them messages informing them that they are no longer eligible for subsidised cooking gas. But that plan was dropped, the minister indicated. “If the Income Tax Department is not entitled to share the data, then how would I know (what the data says)?” Mr. Pradhan asked.

    “The law is the law. It is a matter of privacy. The Finance Ministry is bound by the principle of privacy of Income Tax information,” he said. Now, instead of identifying ineligible beneficiaries, the government has cast the net wider by making it incumbent upon users to submit affidavits declaring that their income is less than Rs.10 lakh.

    Earlier, oil ministry officials had told The Hindu that 3 lakh people earning Rs.10 lakh or more had been identified using Income Tax data. Last month, Mr. Pradhan said those who had voluntarily given up their LPG subsidy could re-apply for it after a year. In Parliament on April 24, he said that the government had decided to “exclude” those earning Rs.10 lakh or more from the purview of the LPG subsidy. Nick Markakis Jersey

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