Meets industry chambers ahead of State Budget

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said on Monday that the State’s tax revenue in the first half of the current financial year was higher than the annual target of 25 per cent.

“In some months of the first two quarters, the growth was as high 35 per cent”, he said. After a meeting with representatives of various industry chambers ahead of the forthcoming State Budget for 2013-14, Mitra said West Bengal was set to meet the tax revenue target of Rs 31,000 crore, up from 2011-12 collection of Rs 25,000 crore. The State saw buoyancy in tax collection from three key sources – commercial tax, excise, and stamp duty and registration. “Entry-tax contributed a small portion of the total revenue”, he added.

In the first two quarters of 2012-13, Mitra said, West Bengal’s gross State domestic product (GSDP) growth was higher than the average of all States put together. “In the first quarter, West Bengal achieved 8.08 per cent GSDP growth, against the national average of 5.05 per cent. In the second quarter, West Bengal witnessed 6.48 per cent GSDP improvement, while the national average was 5.03 per cent,” he pointed out.

Fiscal situation

However, the State’s fiscal situation continues to be precarious.

“Interest cost and debt repayment is eating up the (annual) revenues – Rs 25,000 crore,” he said. The State needs to get out of the debt trap, he reiterated.

According to Deepak Jalan, President of MCC Chamber of Commerce & Industry, at the meeting the State Government was asked to offer incentives and exemptions to sick units for a specific period and extension of the Industrial Promotion Scheme.

The Chamber also suggested that an appropriate “settlement scheme” be announced in the forthcoming Budget for all tax-related pending cases.

(This article was published on February 11, 2013)
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