At a time when debt is mounting on Maharashtra’s exchequer, a sharp drop in Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections has raised an alarm bell for the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government. The GST, the bigger income grosser for the state, was running 10 per cent behind the budgeted target as on December 31, according to official figures.
GST collections in the state by December-end stood at around Rs 84,000 crore, which is 10 per cent below the target set till the month end, the official figures state. For 2018-19, while budgeting for a Rs 3.78-lakh crore expenditure plan, Maharashtra, India’s most industrialised state, had estimated a total collection of Rs 1.40 lakh crore from GST and sales tax.
With the Uddhav Thackeray government rolling out last month a new farm loan waiver scheme and subsidised meal canteens across the state, the state’s revenue expenditure, already 83 per cent of the total expenditure, is likely to shoot up even further.
On Wednesday, Thackeray convened a high-level meeting of senior ministers and officials to discuss the shortfall and ways to overcome it. Indicating that the government is now looking at other avenues to shore up revenues, Thackeray, confirmed officials, has now directed all revenue earning arms of the government to submit proposals for mopping up additional revenue.
Pointing a finger of blame towards the Union government, state’s finance minister, Jayant Patil, who was present at the meeting, said, “The state’s revenue has dipped sharply on account of adjustments since the implementation of the GST. The Centre hasn’t adequately compensated us so far for the same. While we are making efforts to get the due amount released from the Centre, we are also looking at ways to increase our own tax and non-tax revenues,” Patil said.
In another indicator of the ongoing economic slowdown, income from taxes on vehicles have also dipped, raising further concerns for the state. For 2019-20, the state had targetted to mop up Rs 8,249 crore from taxes on purchase on new vehicles.
A decent buoyancy in collections from stamp duties and registrations, and excise collections has, however, brought some relief.
Thackeray has already ordered for the formulation of a white paper of the state of finances. A senior official said, “After GST implementation, there are limitations on increasing tax revenue. The emphasis will be on enhancing non-tax revenues.”
Even as the departments have been asked to submit proposal for raising tax revenue, the official said the monetisation and utilisation of land bank will be explored more aggressively.
Patil also spoke about the PMC Bank scam and cited technical grounds to rule out its merge with the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. “But, we are looking at the option of a merger of the PMC Bank with some other bank,” Patil said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines