Conrad Sangma tables a Rs 1,570 crore deficit budget

Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday tabled a Rs 1,570 crore deficit budget for 2021-22 with no additional taxes proposed as the fiscal deficit is little over 4 percent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).

The total receipts is at Rs 17,509 crore, of which the revenue receipts are estimated at Rs 15,232 crore and capital receipts at Rs 2,277 crore, Sangma said in his budget speech.

Excluding borrowings of RS 2,247 crore, the total receipts are estimated to be Rs 15,262 crore, he said adding that the total expenditure is estimated at Rs 17,603 crore, of which the revenue expenditure is estimated at Rs 13,956 and capital expenditure at Rs 3,647 crore.

According to the chief minister who holds charge of the Finance department, the estimated total expenditure is Rs 16,832 crore excluding repayment of loans of Rs 771 crore.

He said the interest payments for 2021-22 is estimated at Rs 1,047 crore and pension payments at Rs 1,303 crore.

“I am, therefore, presenting the budget of 2021-22 with a fiscal deficit of Rs 1,570 crore, which is around 4.07 percent of the GSDP,” Sangma said.

The chief minister said for the year 2020-21, the amount of tax transfers from the union government has been reduced dramatically, owing to the economic impact of the pandemic.

The budget estimates were Rs 5,999 crore, while the revised estimates were Rs 4,207 crore, a shortfall of Rs 1,792 crore.

“Despite this severe shortfall, the government has prudently managed the state finances and has ensured availability of resources to all critical sectors,” he said.

Stating that the projections for the devolution of taxes for 2021-22 is however encouraging, Sangma said the 15th Finance Commission submitted its final report to the government of India covering the five-year award period 2021-26.

“The Commission has recommended a total amount of Rs 39,012 crore, the revenue gap grant of Rs 3,137 crore, the grants to autonomous district councils of Rs 711 crore, health grants of Rs 311 crore and disaster management of grants of Rs 403 crore,” he said.

The chief minister also informed that the Meghalaya’s share in the divisible pool of taxes has increased from 0.645% in the 14th Finance Commission to 0.767% for the period 2021-26.

The increase is a result of consistent efforts of the government over the last two years through engaging with the Finance Commission and presenting the need for increased resources.

He said for 2021-22, the share of central taxes is estimated at Rs 5,105 crore and the revenue gap grant is at Rs 1,279 crore.

In addition to central transfers, Sangma said the state has been taking steps to increase its own tax and non-tax revenue.

“For the current financial year, the own tax revenue of the state, including GST compensation, is expected to touch Rs 2,213 crore, a 11 percent increase over the financial year 2019-20,” he added.

He informed that the excise revenue for 2020-21 is expected to touch an all time high of Rs 350 crore, an increase of 27 percent over last year.

“Measures like handing over the collection of taxes under the Meghalaya Passenger and Goods Taxation Tax Act to the Transport Department and introduction of the Meghalaya Settlement of Arrears, 2020, licensing of manufacturing and sale of homemade wines, allowing of home delivery of liquor and introduction of e-Stamping have helped in increasing the tax revenue despite the unfavourable economic situation,” he said.

Pointing out that the lockdowns and the restrictions on movement have dramatically reduced the non-tax revenue collection, he said the non-tax revenue collection for this year is expected to be about Rs 374 crore, a 29 percent reduction from last year.

The chief minister however said prospects for non-tax revenue collection for the year 2021-22 are optimistic.

He said the NGT Committee had approved the auction of 2 lakh metric tons out of the 32 lakh metric tons of extracted coal.

“I am happy to announce that the e-auction process of extracted coal by Coal India Limited has begun. In the first auction, about 54,000 metric tons of coal from East Jaintia Hills and about 9,000 metric tons from South Garo Hills are put up for e-auction. When fully auctioned, the extracted coal will generate revenue of about Rs 350 crore. We expect to generate a significant part of this revenue in 2021-22,” he said.

The chief minister further expressed confidence that the revenue collection of the state would improve significantly in the next financial year.

“For 2021-22, I have estimated Rs 2,579 crore and Rs 694 crore for tax and non-tax revenue collection respectively,” he said.

“The increase in tax devolution and the revenue enhancing measures would help in mobilizing the much needed resources to meet our development expenditure pegged at Rs 3,300 crore,” he further stated.

 The Chief Minister also informed that the state government is pursuing with the Union Home Ministry on the implementation of the Inner Line Permit in the state.

“We are following up with the Government of India on this very important issue,” Conrad told the Assembly.

The Chief Minister also announced the year 2021-22 as the year of the youth and an allocation of Rs 10 crore was made for the biggest intervention that is proposed for skilling the youths.

“Every youth of the state will be supported to take up one skill and one talen. The skill and talent providers will also be from within the state leading to entrepreneurship and employment,” he said.

On sports, the Chief Minister announced incentives for athletes as provided in the sports policy and under this scheme, 264 athletes have been identified, he said.

On tourism, Conrad said the state government is creating 500 high value rooms in the next two years under the externally aided Experiential eco-tourism project.

He also informed that the process of setting up of the Shillong Peak ropeway is under way and Rs 30 crore have been allocated for the project.

The state government has allocated Rs 820 crore for the health sector, 802 crore for the water supply sector and Rs 559 crore for agriculture which included Rs 247 crore from the state’s resources during the fiscal year.

NNN

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