Bengal increases plan expenditure, no new taxes in 2016-17 budget

Kolkata, June 24 (IANS) West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Friday proposed no new taxes while increasing Plan Expenditure to Rs 57,905 crore after its actual Plan Expenditure surpassed the estimated figure last year as he presented the budget for 2016-17.

“I propose to increase the Plan Expenditure to Rs 57,905 crore for 2016-17. Our aim is to work for financial and social development for the people of Bengal, particular for those who remain financially and socially backward,” Mitra said during his budget speech in the Assembly.

In the last fiscal (2015-16), the state’s actual Plan Expenditure surpassed the estimated allocation by seven per cent. While the budget estimate was Rs 49,507 crore, the actual expenditure was Rs.53,010 crore — almost Rs.4,000 crore more.

On Friday, Mitra estimated the budget deficit at Rs 8 crore in the current fiscal. He did not propose any fresh taxes.

The minister said fiscal deficit was brought down to 2.68 per cent in 2015-16 from 4.24 per cent in 2010-11, while revenue deficit was reduced to 1.03 per cent in 2015-16 from 3.75 per cent in 2010-11.

Mitra said the state borrowed Rs.1,13,104 crore in the last five years. But out of that, Rs.94, 533 crore was drained out only for debt servicing of the debt taken by the previous government.

“We borrowed about Rs 18,571 crore for development in the last five years, that is, a yearly loan of only Rs 3,718 crore,” he said.

The minister proposed a slew of finance and tax reforms.

He proposed to raise the exemption limit for professional tax from Rs 8,500 to Rs 10,000 per month to give relief to employees and wage earners.

The minister said following measures taken by the Trinamool Congress government to reduce pending litigation under VAT, the number of assessments have drastically come down from 2 lakhs for any assessment year is now less than 20,000.

“The Fast Track Courts have disposed more than 8,000 cases,” he said.

He also proposed abolition of the Settlement Commisison for settling outstanding VAT/Sales Tax liabilities in view of the large disposal of old pending cases through Fast Track Courts.

“I propose to abolish the Commission with effect from July 1,” he said.

In order to further bring down the litigations, the state would not go for litigation where the disputed amount in appeal order was less than Rs 1 lakh.

“This will provide relief to thousands of tax payers and also bring down administrative costs of collection of revenue,” he said.

The minister also proposed to do away with manual furnishing of TDS certificate that was so long mandatory for getting such benefit under VAT law.

“This often results in delay and the tax payer is put to unnecessary burden. I propose to completely dispense with the requirement of submission of paper TDS certificate. The certificate will now be made available online,” Mitra said.

To provide relief to the tea industry and thereby protect the interest of tea workers, the minister proposed exemption from payment of rural employment and education cess be further extended for one more year up to March 31, 2017.



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