With West Bengal Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya set to present state budget for the financial year 2023-24 this month, there are all indications that the state government might exceed its collections target under the “state excise” head as per the budget estimates for the financial year ending March 31, 2023.
As per the budget estimates for fiscal ending March 31, 2023, the target for state excise collection was Rs 16,500 crore and as per records of the state excise department the collections under this head had already crossed Rs 13,500 crore as of January 31, 2023. “So going by the trend it can be easily assumed that the collection for the fiscal under review will easily surpass the target set under budget estimates,” said a senior official of the state excise department.
According to him, the bumper sale of liquor from the beginning of the festive season that started in October 2022 and continued till January this year, coupled with an upward revision in liquor price last month were the two reasons behind the success in state excise collection.
The budget session of the West Bengal Assembly is slated to start from February 8 and the state financial minister might present the state budget for the financial year 2023-24 on February 15.
However, despite this assumed success in collection of state excise, the question remains whether the state government will achieve its target collection of state’s own tax revenue, where state excise is one of the 12 components. As per the budget estimates for 2022-23, the state government has set a target for collecting Rs 79,346 crore of state tax revenue.
Going by the trend of the previous financial year of 2021-22, it seems unlikely to economists that the state government will meet the targeted collection of Rs 79,346 crore of state tax revenue by the end of March 31, 2023. As per the budget estimates for 2021-22, the West Bengal government had set a target of collecting Rs 75,415.74 crore of state tax revenue, which came down to Rs 73,904.58 crore as per the revised estimates for the same financial year.
“This is a typical problem for a state excise- dependent exchequer. It is high time that the state government should concentrate on garnering more revenue from other components under state tax revenue. Otherwise, the day will be there soon when mere state excise collections will not be enough to meet the sky-rocketing expenditure of the state government under various heads,” said teacher of economics PK Mukhopadhyay.