Tuesday 21 May 2024

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Economy | Finance

Parrikar plugs revenue leakages


While tall talks of plugging revenue leakages have been going on for almost a decade, its actual implementation has now brought startling figures to the fore. The state has been generating almost Rs 10 crore additionally every month, since November.

On the other hand, little administrative reforms and partly blocking wastage of funds has also helped in saving almost Rs 20 lakh every month, generating around Rs one crore in last five months.

In this light, it is not a surprise if chief minister Manohar Parrikar presents a tax-free budget or by putting very little burden on the tax payer to mobilise additional resources, provided more stringent steps are taken to stop gross leakages.

According to sources in the finance department, the state treasury would be left with a balance of over Rs 15 crore at the year end, though the position was at negative level with an outstanding of Rs 26 crore when Parrikar took over the reins on 24 October last year.

Due to the intelligent exercise carried out to generate the revenue from within, the state has been able to pay back over Rs 20 crore to the Economic Development Corporation as well as the Industrial Development Corporation towards the loans taken earlier, including the interest.

Besides this, the government also paid Rs 21 crore towards the Voluntary Retirement Scheme floated by the coalition government led by Francisco Sardinha last year. Till date, state the official figures, altogether 1114 employees have opted for the scheme, which would cost the treasury Rs 42.84 crore.

Figures available with the finance department show that the government could also provide additional funds of Rs 63 crore, as a result of this exercise, clearing pending works and commitments. The major share of Rs 43 crore was given to the PWD while Rs six crore to the sports and Rs three core each to tourism and for clearing the industrial subsidy.

Steps taken to plug the revenue leakages were quite simple but handled with a bit of more firm hand. Collection of arrears, whether in power sector or licence fees in shops and establishments as well as excise sector was concentrated upon.

The departments even widened its coverage area including over 100 scrap dealers in the state who were untouched till date for no reasons. Several licences were found to have been not renewed, especially in the liquor sector while even labour contractors' fees were not collected, disclose officials in the finance department.

This has zoomed up excise duty collection by almost five crore, adding Rs one crore more every month. In a similar manner, the sales tax collection also shows a new figure of Rs 405 crore when the budgeted estimate was only Rs 390 crore by year end. The power sector also brought additional Rs eight crore to the kitty.

According to Parrikar, it is just not his personal integrity but also knowledge he has sought about taxation and the methodology of tax evasion which helped him in carrying out this exercise efficiently. While concentration has been only on four departments - excise, power, sales tax and motor vehicles - till date, he feels that the figure can be easily taken to Rs 15 crore per month if more departments are also covered.

Similarly, the chief minister claims that the saving on wastage has a potential of accumulating Rs four crore every month, though presently he has been able to save only Rs 20 lakh, while targeting for monthly saving of Rs two crore within a year.

Finance department officials confirm that the chief minister even rejected an old proposal from Raj Bhavan to build a helipad for the VVIPs coming down, costing around Rs 40 lakh. Similarly, amalgamating some departments like child and women development with social welfare and employment with labour etc, scrapping some senior posts, redeployment of surplus staff etc has also helped tremendously.

Besides this, mild taxation measures like five per cent luxury tax on tobacco products has accrued Rs three crore. Similarly, reduction in sales tax on petroleum products has resulted into rise of sale by 12 per cent while increasing the revenue by four per cent.

According to Parrikar, mild taxation which may not hurt the common man, combined with plugging revenue leakages with more firmness, could easily generate additional revenue of around Rs 25 crore per month, which takes the annual figure to Rs 300 crore. It has to be seen whether his political will reflects in the budget he would present on 22 March.

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