J&K gets applause for better budget management, fiscal discipline: Rather

Says State’s economic growth rate much better

Jammu: Saying that tax revenue in the State has witness
ed 33% increase during the span of last five years of the present coalition Government, the Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs, Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather today said the tax revenue which was just Rs. 2600 crore in 2009 is expected to increase to Rs. 7500 crore during the next fiscal.
Speaking at a jam packed about one hours long press conference, soon after delivering his Budget speech in the Legislative Assembly today, Mr. Rather said this steep increase in tax revenue, without levying new taxes has been possible due to the better tax management and plugging of loopholes in tax collection system, adding that he has been convening periodic review meetings of the department under his charge regularly to assess performance and ensure better budget management and fiscal discipline.
Mr. Rather said the performance of the State, on account of tax collection and budget management, has been lauded by every relevant forums at the national level including Planning Commission of India (PC), Finance Commission, Union Finance Ministry and the State’s Principal Accountant General. “Even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has in unambiguous terms patted the State for its internal resources mobilization initiatives”, Mr. Rather added.
He said it has been the coalition government’s endeavour during last five years not to levy any tax burden on the people not, withstanding economic inflation at the national level. He said that due to effective implementation of Fiscal Responsibility & Budget Management Act (FRBM), the State has been able to be within the ambit of targets assigned by the Planning Commission adding that the State was well ahead to centre in minimizing its fiscal deficit as per the assigned targets in this regard. He said economic growth rate of the State is also better as compared to National figure, adding that the Empowered Committee of the State Finance Ministers has appreciated the State for bringing improvements in Budget management and fiscal discipline.
Briefing about the tax concessions given to various sectors, Mr. Rather said that the agriculture sector has been made more or less tax free. He said both entry tax and toll tax on fertilizers, fungicides and weedicides, which are considered important agriculture inputs, have been exempted, adding that for the first time horticulture sector especially apple, pear, cherry are being brought under the ambit of Insurance cover concession granted to Industry, trade and tourism sectors shall continue for the next fiscal, he said an amount of Rs. 3.50 cr has been earmarked for Women Development Corporation to set-up 100 more Self Help Groups (SHG) comprising 44,000 women which is expected to go a long way in upgrading the living standard of women folk.
He said a provision of Rs. 3 crore has been made in the Budget for marriage of orphan girls belonging to BPL families whereas the coverage of Beti Anmol has been extended from existing 97 blocks to all blocks. The amount to be paid for getting higher education by the poor girl candidates too has been increased from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 10,000 under this scheme. He said the tourism incentive package which was expiring on 31st December, 2014 shall be extended upto March 2015 whereas stamp duty exemption on KCC has been increased from Rs. 1.50 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh. This concession shall also be available to the Artisan Credit Cards, he added.
Mr Rather said the VAT remission for industry shall continue for another year whereas cashless system of VAT remission on purchase of raw material made from SICOP shall be adopted from the next year. Similarly, the Hotel tariff tax exemption shall continue up to March 2015. He said Rs. 1.40 crore has been earmarked for help to HIV/ AIDs cases and Rs. 2 crore for the Cancer Treatment Management Fund.
Replying to queries about stipendiary mode of engagement and New Pension Scheme, the Finance Minister said that these initiatives are aimed to contain burgeoning non-plan expenditure besides creating more employment avenues for the educated un-employed youth. Reply to another query Mr. Rather said Government is actively considering establishing press housing colonies in the State. (KNS)