Maharashtra Budget: Government Announces Farm Sops, Hikes Fuel VAT, Cuts Stamp Duty On Property
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar (fourth from left) at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj before presenting the Maharashtra State Budget 2020-21. (Source: Verified Twitter account of Ajit Pawar). 

Maharashtra Budget: Government Announces Farm Sops, Hikes Fuel VAT, Cuts Stamp Duty On Property

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In its maiden budget, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra on Friday announced sops for farmers, proposed to increase value-added tax on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre and reduced electricity duty for industries.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented the revenue deficit budget of Rs 9,511 crore and proposed the size of annual plan 2020-21 at Rs 1.15 lakh crore in the assembly.

The budget estimates put the fiscal deficit at Rs 5,4618.38 crore. Tabling the first budget of the MVA government, which completed 100 days in office on Friday, Pawar also announced tax concession proposals.

This included a 1 percent stamp duty concession for the next two years and other related charges applicable to the registration of documents in the areas falling under the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and municipal corporations of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, and Nagpur. He proposed to reduce electricity duty on industrial use to 7.5 percent from 9. 3 percent of consumption charges.

Pawar said the concession in stamp duty will help promote the real estate sector in the wake of a slowdown. The reduction in electricity duty will help promote industries in the state, the finance minister said. Due to the tax concessions, it is expected that there will be a yearly revenue loss of around Rs 2,500 crore.

Similarly, Pawar proposed to increase VAT on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre. This will enrich the state exchequer by an additional Rs 1,800 crore, the finance minister told the assembly. He announced a one-time settlement scheme for farmers whose crop loan is more than Rs 2 lakh, including principal and interest, from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2019.

The government will transfer Rs 2 lakh in bank accounts of eligible farmers after the outstanding amount above Rs 2 lakh, as on Sept. 30, 2019, is repaid by them, Pawar said. Similarly, farmers who will regularly repay their dues up to June 30, 2020, and for crop loan taken by them during 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, a maximum of Rs 50,000 will be given to them as an incentive for the amount of crop loan taken during 2018-19, the finance minister said.

He said the government has set a target of feeding one lakh people through its 'Shiv Bhojan' meal scheme. The finance minister made a provision of Rs 150 crore for the subsidised food scheme for the poor. Pawar said the budget proposals focus on tackling challenges of economic slowdown and creation of employment.

He said the government will create a dedicated fund, called "Green fund", which will be utilised for conservation of the environment. Money from this special fund will be specifically used for projects related to sewage disposal and waste management, the finance minister said. Pawar said the tax revenue as per revised estimates for the year 2019-20 is expected to be Rs 2,16,824 crore.

Also read: Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi Government Announces Portfolio Allocation

He said in 2019-20, budget revenue receipt of Rs 3,14,640 crore was expected. However, due to a decrease in receipt of the state share in central taxes by Rs 8,543 crore, the revenue receipts have been revised to Rs 3,09,000 crore, he said. In budget 2020-21, the revenue receipt is estimated at 3,47,457 crore and revenue expenditure at Rs 3,56,968 crore.

"As a result, a revenue deficit of Rs 9,511 crore is indicated," he said. Pawar saidthe total amount of outstanding debt and liabilities at the end of January 2020 stood at Rs 4,33,00,901 crore. During the last five years, the state raised loans of Rs 2,82,448 crore, he said. The cost of infrastructure projects undertaken by the government is Rs 2,78,271 crore and the state has to bear the direct and indirect liability of these projects, Pawar said.

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