A million ironies now – salt tax edition

“Controlling and regulating all aspects of the Salt Industry”

Deep in the Union Budget for the financial year 2011, under Demand No. 12 for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Department of Industrial Policy and Production, is an expenditure of Rs 30 crore for the Salt Commissioner. The explanatory note says:

Salt Commissioner: The Organisation is responsible for administration of the Salt Cess Act, 1953, and the Rules framed thereunder. It regulates the production and rational distribution of salt including iodised salt. It also regularly monitors the price and availability of salt. The budget provides for establishment charges of the organisation and for development/welfare works.

If your interest is piqued, you can look up the Salt Cess Act and visit the website of the Salt Department. The latter tells us that “The Central Government is responsible for controlling and regulating all aspects of Salt Industry.”

According to its latest annual report (for financial year 2008), the Salt Department spent over Rs 17 crore to collect around Rs 3 crore in Salt Cess.

What would the Mahatma say?