Friday, Dec 26, 2003
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In a memorandum submitted to the Commission, the Chamber also suggested that Information Technology related products should be exempted from all sorts of taxation.
Referring to State taxes, the Chamber said sales tax and motor vehicles tax should be brought on par with those of the neighbouring States and stamp duty brought down to 2 per cent. Reducing court fee to two per cent, fixing differential rates of court fee for business disputes and eliminating backlogs of unsettled cases by having more fast track courts are some of the other suggestions the Chamber puts forward.
The Chamber said the local bodies should introduce commercial accounting, computerise entire areas of their activity and introduce credit rating. The local bodies should be allowed to raise funds through public bonds and from non-resident Indians.
The Chamber suggested outsourcing Government activities to the maximum possible extent and introducing commercial accounting and external auditors as desirable measures to bring down Government expenditure. It said ceilings should be fixed for telephone, travel and related expenses of Government employees at all levels, starting with the Chief Secretary. Limits should also be imposed on the use of vehicles by Government employees. Some officials are even being allowed more than one vehicle misusing the facilities under different charges given to them.
The Chamber said Government expenses could be reduced considerably if a bench of the High Court were to be opened in Thiruvananthapuram. Nearly 60 per cent of the litigations that reach the High Court have the Government as a party and large sums are being spent on the travel and related expenses of the bureaucrats for visiting Kochi in connection with the cases.
It further said that the Government should exit from all business by privatising such areas. Government funding for public sector units should be stopped and regular accounting made compulsory for all units. The chief executive officers of the units should be held responsible for any lapses in this respect. Only trained professionals should be appointed as chief executive officers of public sector units.
The Chamber said all roads and bridges projects in future should be constructed only on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, with the Government performing just the supervisory role. Minor roads and bridges projects could be implemented through the local bodies. Maintenance of roads and bridges could be handed over to private agencies for a definite period of, say, five years.
The Chamber said it was the responsibility of the Government to provide quality education to all. It asked the Government to provide scholarships to the needs, introduce compulsory grading of all educational institutions and give regular training and certification to all teachers. The Chamber also said that every citizen should be covered by a Government-sponsored health insurance scheme.
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