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Rs 2,880.91 cr deficit State Budget presented

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 26 - Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today presented a Rs 2,880.91 crore deficit Budget for the State for the current financial year and proposed to reduce prices of e-rickshaws, candle, citronella oil, gur, tamarind, baby feeding bottles, kerosene stoves, packaged drinking water. LED tubes, hospital equipment, room rent of the hospitals, bamboo industry products, etc., while, the tax on cigarettes, gold ornaments, furnace oil, alocohol and pollution causing industries has been proposed to be increased. Property tax is also proposed to be increased.

In his Budget speech in the State Assembly today, Sarma revealed that the total Budget size would be Rs 78,253.36 crore and of the total expenditure, 38 per cent would be plan expenditure and 62 per cent would be non-plan expenditure. He said that the total receipts for the year are estimated to the tune of Rs 2,54,599.87 crore against total estimated expenditure of Rs 2,47,974.51 crore, leaving a surplus of Rs 6,625.36 crore. However, because of opening deficit of Rs 9,506.27 crore, the year is estimated to end at a deficit of Rs 2,880.91 crore.

On the tax proposals, Sarma said that the VAT in e-rickshaw would be reduced from 14.5 per cent to six per cent, on citronella oil it would be reduced from 14.5 per cent to six per cent, and on baby feeding bottle and nipples it would get reduced from six per cent to two per cent. He proposed to exempt candle and tamarind from the VAT, while the VAT on kerosene stoves and parts is proposed to be reduced from 14.5 per cent to two per cent. The VAT on packaged drinking water is proposed to be reduced from 14.5 per cent to six per cent, while similar reduction is also proposed for LED bulbs and tubes. The VAT on CFL bulbs is proposed to be levied as an unclassified item and the VAT exemption is proposed to be restricted to indigenous Mekhela-Chadar produced and sold locally in Assam. Similarly, the VAT is proposed to be exempted for bamboo based industries in small and medium scale industries for a period of three years and the entry tax rate on hospital equipment is proposed to be reduced from two per cent to one per cent. The Hindustan Paper Corporation will get benefit of Input Tax Credit on purchase of bamboo for a period of three years.

The VAT on gold bullion sold through MMTC to local artisans is to be reduced from one per cent to 0.75 per cent, but the VAT on gold ornaments, mainly imported from outside, is proposed to be hiked from one per cent to two per cent.

The Finance Minister proposed reduction of specified land cess for small tea growers from 25 paise per kilogram of green tea leaf to 20 paise if the area of specified land does not exceed 40 hectares, while, the limit of exemption of agriculture income tax is proposed to be raised from one lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh for small tea growers. He proposed reduction of luxury tax on hospitals for room rent below Rs 2,000 and reduction of service charge for cinema halls. However, the amusement tax rates have been increased. He proposed one Rupee per ticket from cine goers for creation of �Silpi and Kalakaushali Kalyan Nidhi� for the benefit of the cinema and theatre workers. He further proposed reduction of amusement tax on individual cable TV subscribers from Rs 30 to Rs 25.

The VAT on furnace oil is proposed to be raised marginally from five per cent to six per cent, while, video and mobile phones, the price of which do not exceed Rs 5,000 will be taxed at six per cent instead of earlier ceiling of Rs 15,000. The canteen stores department and central police canteens will now have to pay concessional tax rate of 7.5 per cent instead of 14.5 per cent. The VAT on cigarettes will be increased and the rate of entry tax on rectified spirit will be increased to 20 per cent, while the Assam Excise Rules of 1945 will be replaced by Assam Excise Rules, 2016. The excise duty on the IMFL will be realized at the level of the manufacturer and the Government has also proposed promotion of heritage liquor.

The Finance Minister proposed to increase the existing zonal valuation of commercial plots in the heart of urban areas, while stamp duty in case of women for registration of property is proposed to be reduced from two percent to one per cent. In case of property exclusively registered in the name of males, the stamp duty will be increased from three per cent to four per cent. E-stamping is proposed to be increased to cover ten more districts from the existing two districts.

The Finance Minister has proposed creation of a tax surveillance wing to detect and take cases of evasion of taxes and provision of imprisonment of transporters and dealers habitually indulging in tax evasion for a period of seven to 14 years is also proposed. He also proposed introduction of a �submit bill, get prize� scheme to encourage customers to obtain bills.

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