No fresh taxes in Maharashtra budget

March 20th, 2008 - 12:44 am ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Mumbai, March 19 (IANS) Maharashtra Finance Minister Jayant Patil, in his record 10th consecutive budget presented Wednesday, focused on social as well as industrial sectors without imposing any additional tax. In his budget, Patil announced some major proposals, which range from construction of a Haj House in Nagpur to a package for modernization of the state police force.

The new Haj House, which was sanctioned four years ago, will be constructed this year at Nagpur at an estimated cost of Rs.90 million to help Haj pilgrims.

Another Rs.150 million has been allocated for the restoration of Mumbai’s old, heritage buildings, some of which are already internationally known landmarks.

Patil announced an annual outlay for Rs.1 billion for the proposed modernization of the Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drainage System. A project of Rs.1,200 crore (Rs.12 billion) has been sanctioned by the central government for the system which will prevent flooding of Mumbai as was witnessed on July 26, 2005.

A provision of Rs.179.20 crore (Rs.1.79 billion) has been made for the modernization of the state police force. The fund would be utilized to provide the force with better communication facilities, enhanced mobility, acquisition of sophisticated arms and ammunition and housing facilities.

In addition, an outlay of Rs.195 crore (Rs.1.95 billion) has been proposed for police housing facilities. The figure last year was Rs.129.61 crore (Rs.1.29 billion).

Besides these, an allocation of Rs.6,000 crore (Rs.60 billion) has been made for the irrigation sector, Rs.2,795 crore (Rs.27.95 billion) for urban development and Rs.1,695 crore (Rs.16.95 billion) for mass housing.

On the crucial infrastructure front, Patil allocated Rs.1,050 crore (Rs.10.50 billion) for the energy sector and Rs.2,000 crore (Rs.20 billion) for four-laning of 1,127 km of the national highways running through the state and 1,627 km for state highways.

The Rs.25,000 crore (Rs.250 billion) budget for 2008-09 allocated an additional Rs.1,400 crore (Rs.14 billion) for non-plan expenditure and the rest for planned expenditure.

To encourage air travel in state interiors, tax rate on ATF has been slashed from 25 percent to four percent when supplied to aircraft outside Mumbai and Pune.

In 2008-09 the government also plans to commence development of several airports, including those at Nagpur and at Shirdi, Sholapur, Amaravati, Jalgaon, Nanded and Latur.

The state announced bicycles would be provided free of cost to girl students in rural areas to promote education.

The government has also decided to construct one million houses for low and middle income group families under various schemes.

The finance minister said resources would be pulled from existing schemes of both the central and state government for the implementation of the programme.

Existing tax exemptions on essential commodities like food grain, cereals, pulses, turmeric and chillies have been extended till March 31, 2010.

There has been a reduction of tax on road transport passenger services from 17.5 percent to 5.5 percent.

The government has proposed to introduce a bill for imposing a tax on vacant land.

The finance minister also announced an e-payment gateway system via Internet for tax payments.

The state will generate a revenue of Rs.20,000 crore (Rs.200 billion) this year. There has been a surplus of Rs.2,981.96 crore (Rs.29.81 billion) for 2007-08 which is estimated to touch Rs.4,608.96 crore (Rs.46.08 billion) by 2008-09.

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