Presenting the first Budget of TMC-2, Finance Minister Amit Mitra Friday proposed to cut the government’s fiscal deficit to 1.96 per cent of gross state domestic product (GSDP), against 2.68 per cent in 2015-16. His formula: higher tax collections through improved compliance and eliminating revenue deficit.
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Mitra proposed to eliminate revenue deficit from next year, from 1.03 per cent last year, and introduced tax reforms such as digitisation of tax payment procedures and abolition of the tax dispute settlement commission. Experts suggested that the elimination of the settlement commission could also be a step by the government in preparation of the GST Bill. As part of its digitisation plan, the state has done away with the requirement of submission of paper TDS certificate, replacing it with an online system.
Meanwhile, it remains evident that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is increasingly concerned with the debt servicing that continues to drain the state’s resources. On Thursday she proposed to hold a special session of the state Assembly to discuss the debt crisis. She also termed the debt as “death traps” saying that “three states—Kerala, West Bengal and Punjab— are already in debt traps”. She said that in the past five years, the mounting debt was making development impossible. She added that all states were heading towards similar debt traps and lashed out at the Centre for slashing budgets for ICDS, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and for development of the Jangalmahal area.
Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan reiterated that the Budget lacked depth and alleged that figures were “misleading”.