As the weekend night is upon us, it makes perfect sense to share the news nugget that emerged out of the one-hour ‘regulatory duty’ debate at the Punjab Assembly, later Friday afternoon. A significant 25 per cent “luxury tax” has been suggested to be enforced on restaurants and hotels serving food to the rich after 8pm at night, the Punjab Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment Sheikh Allauddin informed the house.
Responding to criticism from the opposition benches over the extent of regulatory duty on various products, the minister defended the government policies by suggesting that the measures have been take to support the poor and penalize the elite by imposing taxes on luxury items. He stressed that products exclusively meant for the rich must be made approachable for the common man as well. The minister compared the prices of tomatoes and those of bridal lehngas to make his point.
To support his case, the minister kept establishing the need for the regulatory duty. He asked the dissenting opposition why must the imposition of regulatory duty be contested when it is imposed on people who have 3000cc cars or vehicles worth Rs40 million. The minister assured the house that no duty had been imposed upon items which are consumed by the masses.
The imposition of 50% regulatory duty over perfumes, lipstick, eyeliners, nail polish, face-powder, skin creams, talcum-powder and other material has no implication for the masses, the minister maintained.
Making the argument about the taxation policy and the regulatory duty framework of the government a crusade against the class system, the Punjab Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment insisted that regulatory duties have been imposed for the greater good of the country and domestic industry. This, he pointed out, made a good case for the government to consider imposing a 25 per cent luxury tax on all upscale food places – restaurants and hotels, which served food late into the night. The minster made it clear that having dinner after 8PM qualified for late night dinning.
The interesting takeaway of the minister’s insight is that an individual’s dinner time is not going to determine whether or not he has to be indirectly subjected to the newly proposed luxury tax. If the food place a customer is heading to at 7PM for dinner keeps serving dinner till late into the night, the food place shall be subjected to the imposition of the 25% luxury tax – thereby, making the 7PM dinner client an indirect sufferer of the taxation as well. Well, that’s how the government plans to make amenities of life accessible to the poor.
Happy eating out while you still can!