|Sangma presents Rs 819 cr deficit budget|
SHILLONG, March 18 – Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma today presented a Rs 819 crore deficit Budget for the 2015-16 fiscal, with tax hike on diesel, petrol and other items to meet the shortfall.
Presenting the Budget in the Assembly, Sangma said the State’s total estimated receipt stands at Rs 8,434 crore while the total expenditure is projected at Rs 9,253 crore, thus leaving a deficit of Rs 819 crore.
The Chief Minister, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said, the deficit is around 2.8 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).
Sangma said that to overcome the shortfall and generate additional resources, the State Government has proposed withdrawal of exemption of 50 paise per litre on diesel and withdrawal of 50 per cent of the exemption of Rs 1.13 per litre on petrol, which were notified on June 14, 2012. Additionally, diesel price has been increased by one per cent.
Moreover, cigarettes, cheroots, cigars, beedis and smoking mixture would be dearer with the Government proposing an increase of seven per cent on the existing prices.
The Government has further introduced a cess of Rs 20 per metric tonne on clinker to assist the education sector. Sangma said that these measures would help the Government raise an additional fund of Rs 30.91 crore annually.
The Chief Minister has also proposed to enhance the rate of cess on limestone from Rs 20 to Rs 40 per metric tonne, fire clay from Rs 5 to Rs 20 per metric tonne and sillimanite from Rs 300 to Rs 350 per metric tonne. Sangma said that the fund raised from these hikes would go in supporting the primary education sector of the State.
He said the State Government faced a daunting task before it to present the Budget as the State revenue was hit due to the ban on coal mining by the National Green Tribunal which has brought down the State’s revenue by Rs 600 crore.
He also informed that the projected transfer for the State from the 14th Finance Commission stands at Rs 27,270 crore. The State received Rs 9,842 crore from the 13th Finance Commission and therefore the projected transfer from the 14th Finance Commission is an increase of 177 per cent. The Government in its Budget has accorded the highest importance to the education sector allocating Rs 681.88 crore. This was followed by creation of infrastructure like roads and bridges, for which the Government allocated Rs 555.20 crore.
The Government has also accorded priority to the Health and Family Welfare department and allocated Rs 380.50 crore for this crucial sector. Further, highlighting the Government’s priority to improve water supply and sanitation, Sangma said an amount of Rs 309.40 crore has been proposed for the current fiscal.