Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday decided that ministers will start paying their own income tax, ending a four-decade-old practice of the state exchequer shelling out the amount annually for them.
The direction follows criticism in the media of a law enacted in 1981 which ensures that the state's chief minister and ministers don't pay any income tax themselves.
Instead, their share is shelled out by the state government under the Uttar Pradesh Ministers' Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Act, 1981. After a news report made this revelation, several politicians said they were not even aware of the provision in the UP Act.
This provision was made in the law when VP Singh was the Chief Minister. Since then, 19 chief ministers, including Yogi Adityanath, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta, Rajnath Singh, Sripati Misra, Veer Bahadur Singh and Narain Dutt Tiwari have availed the benefit of this provision.
The rationale given for the privilege by V P Singh was that the Chief Minister and his Ministers come from a "poor" background and "cannot pay income tax from their own meagre earnings".
Right now, the chief minister of UP gets around Rs 1.65 lakh per annum, including the basic salary, DA and other allowances. Some of these grants are taxable while others are not. A minister gets around Rs 1.55 lakh a year. (The CM and ministers also get a free residence, state car, etc.)
When contacted, none of the spokespersons of various political parties were ready to comment on the issue. "Let us discuss and then we will comment on this," said a Samajwadi Party leader.
A veteran Congress leader said that though the V.P. Singh government had enacted the law, the maximum beneficiaries were the non-Congress governments.
A Bharatiya Janata Party Minister said that he was not even aware of this perk until now. "I do not have the time to check my accounts but we will see what is to be done."
As of now, the UP Treasury has paid income tax dues of nearly 1,000 Chief Ministers and ministers since 1981. Even the income tax of members of the Yogi government is deposited from the Treasury.
This financial year, the income tax bill of Adityanath and his Council of Ministers was around Rs 86 lakh and paid from the state Treasury.