April 26, 2018 6:24:18 pm
Assam’s experience with the ambitious GST has not been good as collections have dropped by 15-20 per cent on month-on-month basis, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Thursday.
Making his inaugural speech before the visiting 15th Finance Commission, Sonowal said: “The experience of GST till now has not been encouraging. There is an estimated 15-20 per cent loss when collections are compared with expected revenue on month to month basis.”
Appealing the Commission to consider this aspect so that Assam does not suffer, he hoped that the situation will improve in future with introduction of e-way bill among others. “The revenue collection of various taxes under the state government have shown an average increase of around 20 per cent annually in the last two years other than GST. It was possible because of better system and controlling corruption,” Sonowal said.
He informed that the taxes subsumed under GST formed about 60 per cent of the state’s tax revenue and 50 per cent of its own revenue. Sonowal said that Assam’s budget expenditure has gone up to Rs 70,000 crore in 2017-18 from Rs 42,000 crore in 2015-16, while the capital expenditure jumped to Rs 12,800 crore from Rs 4,900 crore in the same period.
“Assam got reduced share of central taxes under the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission on account of various reasons. Assam has significantly lower per capita income compared with national average and poor socio economic indicator,” he added. The Chief Minister urged the Commission, who is on a two-day visit to the state, to consider the efforts in controlling flood and erosion as the top priority.
Stating that Assam faces challenges from insurgency and radical elements, he said: “This requires strengthening and modernisation of police infrastructure. This area has suffered due to absence of any grant in the last Finance Commission recommendations.” Sonowal also requested the Commission to propose an inter-state and international border development programme in North East benefiting all states in order to reduce disputes among them.
Welcoming the Commission, Assam Chief Secretary T Y Das said withdrawal of Special Category status to the state has put additional burden in implementing the schemes. “Though some corrective measures were taken, but no step has been taken to compensate the losses due to withdrawal of Special Category status,” she said, adding Assam’s per capita income is 63 per cent of the national average.
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