The ruling BJP has urged the state government to impose heavy taxes on liquor and cigarettes in the state budget for 2015-16 in Maharashtra.
According to finance department sources, the party’s proposal for making liquor and cigarettes more expensive has been considered. The party has also suggested that liquor bottles have a minimum holding capacity of one litre and cigarette packet of 20 sticks to dissuade easy expenditure on buying of liquor and cigarettes.
State’s Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who played a key role in enforcing a ban on sale of liquor in his constituency of Chandrapur in Vidarbha region last month, had sought suggestions from his party in the budget-making exercise in a letter to the state BJP on February 2, ahead of the budget session that will commence on March 9.
In his letter, the minister said, “The state is reeling under a massive debt of Rs 3.4 lakh crore. Almost 23,000 crore is incurred as annual interest payment. The government is preparing the budget with such serious financial constraints.”
Apart from recommending a steep hike in taxes on liquor and cigarettes, a draft proposal prepared by the BJP has also sought 20 per cent of budget allocation for construction of women toilets in Mumbai and rest of state.
State BJP office secretary Mukund Kulkarni said, “We are extremely pleased to receive the letter from the finance minister who has elicited views from us on three aspects related to budget – how to mobilise funds, cut expenditure and make public welfare schemes.”
A 12-member state BJP team held a meeting to provide the suggestions, which ranged from reducing stamp duty on registration of properties to hiking ready reckoner rates.
Another suggestion to boost revenue was selling large tracts of government land leased out for nominal rent. According to the party’s estimates, the sale of such land can generate revenue of up to Rs one lakh crore.
“There are several corporations (mahamandals) which are defunct. Their land can be unlocked and developed for mobilisation of funds, the draft report by the party states, while mentioning the names of two such “non-functional” corporations – Agriculture Mahamandal and Worli Dairy Development Corporation at Worli.
The party has also urged the finance minister to introduce pre-paid cards for paying toll tax to avoid waste of time and fuel. There are 7,000 toll plazas across the state.
Another suggestion was penalising errant builders for violating building laws, which could earn the state government Rs 3,000 crore annually in additional revenue.