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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Maharashtra Finance Minister presents marginally surplus budget

Mumbai: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar presented a marginally revenue-suplus state budget for 2012-13, extensively focusing on infrastructure, social, health and tourism sectors.

However, Pawar's plans to tax the commoners by hiking taxes on most fuels is expected to fuel inflation and has invited protests from both the ruling and Opposition benches.

Pawar's move to hike the taxes on prices of cooking gas (LPG) cylinders, CNG, petrol, diesel and ATF is expected to hit most sectors of the economy and may contribute to inflationary trends.

While Pawar tabled the budget in the legislative assembly, Minister of State for Finance Rajendra Mulak presented it in the legislative council.

While announcing ambitious new schemes in the health, social, education and other sectors, Pawar's move to burden the people with a slew of new tax proposals expected to yield Rs.600 crore, has been greeted with protests and threats of agitations.

The budget proposals discontinued tax exemption since 2008 on LPG and proposed a 5 percent levy, with Pawar citing examples of other states.

Similarly, finished garments shall be taxed 5 percent at point of sales, the tax component hiked from four percent to five percent on ATF and a levy of 12.5 percent entry tax on natural gas sourced from outside the state.

The Motor Vehicle Tax has also been increased by two percent on petrol cars and jeeps and four percent on diesel cars and jeeps - from the earlier slabs. TDS on works contract executed by unregistered dealers would be now 5 percent.

"I have attempted to strike a fair balance between development needs of the state and additional tax burden," Pawar said, justifying the proposals.

While Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the budget does not put a heavy tax burden on the common man, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawade demanded a roll-back on the levies failing which he threatened a state-wide agitation.

The state's Annual Plan has been fixed at Rs.45,000 crore, while the Gross State Domestic Product is expected to be 8.5 percent.

The revenue surplus is to the order of Rs.152.49 crore.

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