The Maharashtra government is on course to widen the tax net and introduce new levies to mop up additional revenue required to meet its spending plans as it tries to strike a balance between being fiscally prudent given its huge debt burden and the need to revive growth.
Apart from bringing additional items in the sales tax net, official sources said the government planned to monetise development tools such as premium collected on floor space index (FSI), development rights certificates and lease premium. The government is also expected to announce abolition of the controversial local body tax (LBT) and plans to replace it with a surcharge on Value Added Tax. The budget will be unveiled on March 18.
The Indian Express had reported last week that despite the tight financial position of the state exchequer, the plan expenditure for 2015-16 will cross the Rs 53,000-crore mark. It was Rs 51,223 crore in 2014-15.
The government is also expected to tap into the pool of “unused funds” lying with various development corporations and boards to fund existing and new schemes, according to sources.
Five irrigation development corporations alone have Rs 2,100 crore in unused funds, which would be put to use for funding water schemes.
Official sources said the Labour Welfare Board too had a sizeable unused funds, which would be used for labour welfare schemes.
There is also a plan to provide Rs 750 crore by plugging gaps in various scholarship and welfare schemes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship initiatives — Make in India, Swachh Bharat, smart cities and Housing for All — would drive the Fadnavis government’s expenditure agenda.
The other big idea, which is expected in the upcoming budget, is a big boost to young entrepreneurs and local start-ups.
To boost the Swachh Bharat mission, the government is expected to announce a new scheme for building toilets in rural households. As per a government baseline survey, about 56 lakh households in Maharashtra do not have in-house toilets. The government will announce a Rs 2,000-crore scheme to build these in four years.
With each such toilet estimated to cost Rs 12,000, the centre has promised funding support of Rs 9,000, whereas the state government would contribute the rest. The government is also expected to announce a campaign to appoint “cleanliness ambassadors” in each village, who would be paid honorariums for constructing toilets in rural belts.
As part of its drought-free Maharashtra mission, the government has decided to revive the defunct water supply schemes in rural Maharashtra.
The government will offer a one-time settlement package for villagers to write off arrears. Solar pumps will be installed at government cost to drive these water supply schemes.