Published On : Mon, Apr 1st, 2013

Cable operators sell set top boxes sans bill, evading tax on massive scale in Nagpur


Nagpur News: As lakhs of TV viewers across Nagpur are tuning into their newly bought set top boxes which has been made mandatory from April 1, 2013 as per the directives from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the cable operators and their executing agencies are busy making some extra money. The prominent cable operators in Nagpur are UCN, InCable, GTPL and BCN. As the prices for set top boxes are not fixed, the operators are acting on their free will to recover as per their wish. Moreover, even the customers are not being given any bills. This is causing great deal of revenue loss in the form of VAT evasion. Even the octroi theft could not be ruled out.

Octroi department assistant commissioner Mahesh Dhamecha informed Nagpur Today that last week only a consignment of around 10-12 set top boxes being brought into the city were caught without any valid bills. The consignment which belonged to UCN cable network was immediately seized and notice has been issued to the cable network’s Nagpur office. Till date, no one from UCN has responded to the notice nor claimed their right over the seized consignment. On being asked about theft of octroi in the transaction, Dhamecha did not rule out any such practice as recent raid only hinted at the possible evasion.


Surprise Price Revise

The set top boxes which were being sold at Rs 500 each without any extra cost couple of months back are now being passed out to the customers at Rs 1000 plus Rs 200 to Rs 300 extra in the name of installation charges. As a matter of fact, only a cable wire is inserted into the set top box with a handy tuning – that ironically falls in the installation bracket for which extra Rs 300 is being charged. Morever, even the bill or any invoice is not being given to the customers against the purchase who are forced to cough up double the amount.

Collector Assures Action

Social activist Vandana Sharma reacted to the ongoing malpractice sharply and met the District Collector Saurabh Rao on Saturday. Rao assured her of looking into the matter and coming clear on the situation to help the citizens see through transparently.

Sales Tax Orders Probe

Later Vandana Sharma also met Sales Tax Commissioner, Investigation, Rekha Chondekar to underline the practice being followed by the cable operators across Nagpur. Chondekar was informed that since the customers are not being given bills of set top boxes, it amounts to massive evasion of sales tax.

As per the rule, any trader whose turnover exceeds Rs 5 lakh per annum must have the VAT number registered for business. Going by the amount of Rs 1200-Rs 1300 which every other cable operator is charging, the turnover runs in crores. And without any invoice to customers, it clearly means massive tax evasion to the tune of crores of rupees. Vandana Sharma briefed Chondekar about the problems being faced by the customers who are being charged double the amount for the set top boxes at present.

Following the information, Chondekar immediately directed inquiry into the matter and ordered his subordinates to get hold of the data pertaining to the sales of set top boxes by the cable operators in Nagpur.

Set top boxes fall under electronic goods

Later Vandana Sharma also met octroi assistant commissioner Dhamecha to find about any octroi theft in the matter. Dhamecha informed that the set top boxes are transported into the city under electronic goods upon which prescribed octroi is charged. And if the trader fails to show up the bills for their purchase then 4 percent octroi is charged on the 70% of the maximum retail price printed on the product.

Service Tax Deptt keeping watch

A new story came to light as Vandana Sharma met Shraddha Joshi, assistant commissioner, service tax. While appreciating Vandana’s efforts, she informed that UCN has asked for credit against their sale which they claimed to have done below the price printed on the set top boxes. On the other the customers are not being handed over the bills. She assured to dig deep into the matter.

Actual price Rs 350 only!

However a reliable source from IT informed that the set top boxes have been purchased as the prices much lower than what is mentioned on the product. The source puts the price of each set top box at Rs 350.

Ask for the Bill

The sales tax department has appealed to all the customers to take the bills of their purchase from the cable operators, no matter whatever amount they are charging. This would help expose the actual act of these cable agencies.