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Tourism Minister moots cess on Indians travelling abroad

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The Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, with the Minister for Tourism, Ms Renuka Chowdhury, at the `State Tourism Ministers' meet' in the Capital on Friday. - Kamal Narang

New Delhi , March 4

THE Minister for Tourism, Ms Renuka Chowdhury, on Friday suggested levying a cess of Rs 1,000 on every Indian travelling abroad.

Speaking at the State Tourism Ministers conference, the Minister said that monies collected through the cess could be used to cover the viability gap in funding various tourism projects.

While not putting a figure on the monies that would be collected through the cess, she said that some 4.9 million Indians travel abroad every year.

Though the suggestion had been made to the Planning Commission, they did not seem too enthused by the idea, she added.

Stating that the tourism sector was an engine of change and development, she said that the sector was the third largest foreign exchange earner after commerce and information technology.

The Minister also stressed on the need to bestow either economic or infrastructure status on the sector.

She called on the States to consider reducing the taxes levied on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and look at rationalising the other taxes imposed on the sector.

"ATF helps move people and they help you generate more incomes and employment opportunities."

Delivering the inaugural address, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said that the current visa processing facility was "completely unacceptable" and made a strong plea for India following a policy of providing visa-on-arrival.

Calling on the States to review their taxes, he said that these should be at a modest level.

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