Presenting the maiden Budget of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Wednesday announced the scrapping of local body tax (LBT). The Budget provides for a revenue deficit of R13,883 crore against R4,103 crore in the last fiscal.
The government announced that the LBT will be abolished from August 1, instead of the initial proposal of April 1. To compensate for the losses, the government will impose surcharge on value added tax (VAT) across the state. “A revenue neutral rate has been recommended considering the share of increased tax collection will be given to the areas where LBT is not levied. A decision in this regard will be taken after due consultation and, thereafter, LBT will be abolished from August 1, he said. The government admitted there were limited options to increase tax, considering the present state of the economy. The state bears a debt burden of R3 lakh crore and interest burden of R24,000 crore annually.
The minister said he will tap some unconventional revenue sources, such as charging premium fee linked to the market value of land for change in purpose of the land, additional FSI, and mobilise R643 crore through various tax proposals, including entry tax on import of long steel in state, increase in tax rate to 12.5% from 5% on plain and pre-laminated particle boards, among others.
The finance minister also announced allocation to handle the agrarian crisis, adding that 2.23 lakh farmers would be freed from loan taken from moneylenders.
The government has decided to repay farmer loans amounting RRs 156-crore principal amount and its interest of R15 crore, which will make around 2,23,000 farmers free from the debt burden. Around 16 lakh hectare of land has been brought under micro-irrigation in 2013-14, he said. An outlay of R330 crore is proposed in 2015-16, which is significantly higher than last year’s R12.50 crore.
The finance minister announced the formation of a special purpose vehicle to give impetus to the Mumbai Metro Line 3 Project. An outlay of R109.60 crore has been proposed for this project.
To fast-track Nagpur and Pune Metro project, an outlay of R197.69 crore and R174.99 crore, respectively, has been proposed.
Mungantiwar also said smart cities development concept will be implemented. To take up more cities in the state under the scheme of the Centre, an outlay of R268 crore is proposed.
The finance minister said that an allocation of R7,272 crore has been made to complete 38 irrigation projects on a priority basis.