PARRIKAR PLAYS IT SAFE

  Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Monday presented a cautious, practical first ever five-figure Budget in Goa’s history of Rs 10,053 crore, for 2013-14, aiming to juggle and revitalise various sectors of the economy. This year’s budget is however, bereft of any big-ticket schemes, perhaps underlining the chief minister’s firm determination not to be held hostage to the mining imbroglio that has engulfed the State since September 2012. Indeed, Parrikar could be said to have tossed multiple balls into play and it is his adroitness as a juggler that is likely to decide whether he can keep all of them in the air. The Rs 204 crore revenue deficit budget, presented in Konkani with even the Budget copy presented to the media in Devanagri script ~ has a deficit of 3.93 per cent, almost 1 per cent above the FRBM rule of  3 per cent ~ touched five figures at Rs 10,053 crore for the first time ever. Rs 650 crore has been earmarked for schemes. The total outlay of the 2013-14 budget is 9.8 per cent  higher than that of last year. The total budget size – plan and non plan was Rs 9148.47 crore last year. The GDP has reduced from 10.15 per cent in 2010 to 8.94 per cent in 2011-12. The chief minister said that he was hopeful of a 12 per cent GDP next year. Last year’s budget had a revenue deficit of Rs 82.90 crore and a fiscal deficit of Rs 755.16 crore, but as the chief minister pointed out there were arrears of Capital account of Rs 1350 crore of which Rs 860 crore had already been paid. The chief minister who began with a poem by BJP icon Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that infrastructure and employment were the thrust areas of his budget and provisions of Rs 128 crore for mega jetty project, the multi-level car parking facility work, had been made. Work on this would be given top priority and revenue would be generated from sales tax, commercial tax, stamp duty, CoP and transport. The budget makes provision for beautification of Old Goa for the 2014 Exposition of St Francis Xavier through GTDC. Similarly, beautification of temple areas of Mangueshi and Mardol would also be carried out through separate provisions. An unique scheme for foreign tourists for those visiting Goa would be entitled for refund of Value Added Tax (VAT) paid against purchases made in the State. The VAT refund will be done at the Goa airport, against valid tax invoices to be produced by them on their departure.  The scheme would be effective from the forthcoming tourist season from September 2013. To encourage more airline arrivals to the State, the Budget formulates a scheme of VAT on ATF, subject to minimum VAT of 5 per cent, on the basis of progressive increase of passengers by the airline carrier in a year with reference to the base year 2012-13. The scheme will be introduced during the forthcoming tourist season. The Budget increases Luxury tax on hotels by 12 per cent and given 60 per cent rebate during the off season from June–September. Water Tariff has been enhanced without touching domestic and small consumers and withdrawal of water from river or surface water at Rs 10 per cu mtr and Rs 15/- per cu mtr for raw or semi-treated pumped water. These rates do not apply for agriculture. Napkins and sanitary napkins have been exempted from VAT. As part of the mop up of revenue given that the Chief Minister cannot rely on mining revenue given the uncertainty when the ban on mining will be vacated, Parrikar has levied a Green Cess on all petroleum products at the rate of 0.5per cent sold / brought in Goa. In a measure that will affect all, and would be a revenue earner for the State exchequer given that there is no choice the state is to see a revision of cost of various government forms and services and also a transfer fee is on the cards for transferring registration of used two-wheelers, four-wheelers. Houses above Rs 10 lakh will be taxed at 1 per cent while those above Rs 100 lakh will have to pay 2 per cent. An entry tax on courier services for online shopping will bring into the tax bracket a hereto untapped field given that Goans today have taken to online shopping while a 12.5 per cent VAT on empty glass bottles for beer and other products will hit tourists and locals alike ~ but is on expected lines. Tourists will have to pay more to carry booze for personal consumption as the permit to carry duty paid bottles is to be hiked from Rs 10 to Rs 20 per permit. [H]