Petrol-liquor up, entry tax & mining cess for the first time in Sardinha's budget

| 29 March 2000 17:48 IST

You may buy famous cashew nuts and kernels, bread or cake and pastries for the same price when you come down to Goa next, but not the liquor (except Goa's famous cashew feni) or even travelling around at the same cost.

Presenting his maiden budget, chief minister Francisco Sardinha has accepted the national level proposal of uniform floor rates of sales tax, except few such items as well school-related stationary and cooking gas used for domestic purpose.

Estimating around Rs 35 crore from the uniform floor rates on sales tax, the state government has proposed hike in petrol by 70 paise and diesel by 17 paise per litre. Sales tax on motor vehicles is also increased by only two per cent, from the earlier four per cent, making purchases of any motor vehicle still cheaper in Goa.

Though Sardinha has presented the budget with a deficit of Rs 11.69 crore, he is confident of it being converted into a surplus budget once the state receives its additional share of around Rs 30 crore in central taxes. For the first time, the tiny state has proposed taxation measures to the tune of Rs 75 crore.

In an attempt to pull out the state from the debt trap where 22 per cent of its budgetary expenditure is spent simply on paying loans and interest over it, Goa for the first time in its history has also imposed mining cess, hitting the all-powerful private miners' lobby here, while creating Green Goa fund out of it to deal with mining pollution.

In a similar manner, plastic packaging material including the mineral water bottles would also be levied cess whereas the increased licence fees on beach shacks would be utilised for garbage removal from the coastline.

While searching for new areas to raise revenue, Sardinha has decided to levy entry tax on all the goods entering the state, except for those meant for sale in Goa, while accruing almost Rs 30 crore from it. The small scale units except ferro alloy, pharmaceuticals and chemical units are however exempted from it.

Identifying the grey area, Sardinha noted in his budget speech that raw materials were brought into the state and finished products were taken out without paying any tax while enjoying all the facilities for setting up industries here all these years.

Going against his earlier decision, Sardinha's coalition government (consisting of breakaway Congress and the BJP) has also decided to continue sales tax holiday of 10 years for small units and five years for medium and large scale sector for two more years. Goa also enjoys the income tax holiday.

Sardinha has however proposed several measures in the excise duties relating to liquor including rationalising some of the structures. Unlike the mild beer, strong beer would cost more in Goa now. He has allowed the bars and restaurants to be kept open even after 11 pm, provided they pay additional licence fee for specified number of hours.

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