Petrol prices in Goa are set to soar as Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today announced a 15 per cent hike in value-added tax (VAT) on the fuel.

The Goa government had kept petrol prices below ₹60 per litre during the last five years by reducing the VAT on it.

“My government, since the last five years, has been able to maintain the promise given to the people of the state in 2012, and has ensured that the prices of Motor Spirit (petrol) did not cross the threshold level of ₹60 per litre,” Parrikar said presenting the State Budget today.“The prices of petrol in Goa are significantly lower compared to the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra, where this fuel is sold at ₹72 and ₹76 respectively,” he said.

Entry tax abolition

“It is time to review this measure, in view of the enhanced spending and provisions made for various existing and new initiatives in the Budget.

I propose to enhance the rate of VAT on Motor Spirit to 15 per cent. Even with this increase, the price of petrol will be in the range of ₹65 per litre, which is substantially lesser than our neighbouring states,” the Chief Minister added.

Parrikar also announced that entry tax imposed on the vehicles entering the state would be abolished once GST is introduced.“The Department of Commercial Taxes is fully geared to migrate over to the GST regime. With the enactment of the State GST Act which I will bring before this House shortly, the state will be set to implement GST from the expected date,” he said.

Centre’s compensation

“Goa being more of a consuming state, wherein services play a major role in the state economy, it is anticipated that the state will gain. Any shortfall will be compensated by the Union government,” he added.“Since the GST roll-out is imminent, I have not tinkered with the rates of various commercial taxes. However, I propose to withdraw the scheme of collection of entry fee at the border points when GST is implemented,” Parrikar announced.

Attracting tourists

He also proposed measures to ensure effortless travel for tourists. He said five double and five single decker hop-on and hop-off (HOHO) bus services will be introduced by the government initially in North Goa tourist circuit during FY 2017-18 through Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC).

“Similarly, amphibious bus service will be commercially launched by my government to provide the tourists wholesome experience of Goan backwaters and to efficiently utilise inland waters of Goa for promotion of high-end tourism,” he said.

Aguada Jail as monument

Parrikar also proposed to convert the erstwhile Fort Aguada Jail complex into a monument highlighting Goan freedom struggle and said it will have facilities for a daily sound-and-light laser show for tourists.