PUDUCHERRY: Faced with financial crunch, the Oulgaret municipality on Thursday disconnected services of 18 cable TV operators to recover entertainment tax dues. This is the first time such action is being taken against cable TV operators. It may be recalled that Opposition parties had raised the issue in the Assembly on several occasions in the past.
Out of the 68 operators in the Municipality, 50 had defaulted on tax payment, some even from the year 2000. The least period of default is four years, said M Ramesh, Commissioner of Oulgaret Municipality. Despite repeated notices, the operators failed to pay the dues. Thereafter the operators were given a final deadline of February 10 for clearing the dues. The entertainment tax is 10 per cent of the total monthly subscription.
While 32 operators paid up, 18 defaulted once again. Following this, the enforcement wing of the Revenue section disconnected their connection to consumers. The 18 operators have dues of Rs 59 lakh. Once they pay up, the connections would be restored, Ramesh said.
The Pondicherry Municipality has also pushed for collection of tax dues from cable TV operators. “ If they don’t pay their dues, we will initiate action against the network”, said R Chandrasekharan, the Commissioner of Pondicherry Municipality.
Despite Thursday’s action, it is felt that there is large scale tax evasion by cable TV operators. The number of connections is presumed to be higher than the number of connections shown by each operator. As the Municipalities have no mechanism to check the connections declared by the operators, the Municipalities are collecting tax on the basis of the estimate provided by them.
As a possible solution to this, the government has instructed operators to digitize the cable TV network, said Chandrasekharan. At a meeting with the Multi System Operators (MSOs) chaired by Secretary Local Administration, they were instructed to convert analogue signals to digital before December this year.
The Municipalities are also pressing for recovery of property tax dues. For the last one week, the Oulgaret Municipality has been appealing to people to pay property tax dues. The Municipality has a due of about `8 crore for a period of around 7 to 8 years, Ramesh said.