New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, oil regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has levied a ‘turnover´ tax on the revenues companies will earn from retailing CNG and natural gas in cities, a move that the industry sees as exceeding its jurisdiction.
The PNGRB, which as per its enacting legislation has powers to levy fee, has levied a minimum tax of Rs2 crore per annum on turnover that companies like GAIL and Reliance Industries earn from selling CNG to automobiles and piped natural gas to households and industries.
As per the Gazette notification, PNGRB has asked entities to pay Rs2 crore for turnover of up to Rs20,000 crore under the head ‘other charges’. For turnover of up to Rs50,000 crore it has levied Rs2 crore plus 0.008% of revenues in excess of Rs20,000 crore. For turnover up to Rs100,000 crore it will charge Rs4.4 crore plus 0.005% of revenues more than Rs50,000 crore.
Besides, 0.2% of capital expenditure during construction period will be payable by entities, it said.
Petrofed, a body of oil and gas companies, has opposed the move saying “other charges are similar to levy of turnover tax or sharing of revenue which are not provided for under the PNGRB Act.”
A new tax can only be levied by the Finance Ministry and also PNGRB does not have powers to withdraw even a single penny collected in such charges, Petrofed said.
In a presentation to PNGRB, it said the Board can levy ‘other charges´ only “against specific service rendered or goods supplied.”
Besides the new tax, PNGRB has notified fee payable by companies for registration, authorisation and filing complaints.
Petrofed said “levy of other charges is not envisaged in the PNGRB Act.” The Act envisages “Government funding of PNGRB through the Union Budget and as such provides funds for the Board, therefore levy of other charges is not justified,” it said.
Drawing parallel with the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, Petrofed said “the Electricity Act provides for reasonable fee structure for various activities (and) no charge as ‘other charges´ have been levied by the CERC.”
“There being similarity in functions related to energy sector, PNGRB is requested to withdraw provisions related to ‘other charges´,” it added.
‘Charges’ means “demand (an amount) as a price for a service rendered or goods supplied. Thus ‘other charges´ provision do not conform to the meaning of ‘charge´ when related to money as no services are being rendered,” Petrofed said.