The Maharashtra Government on Saturday proposed to raise tax on liquor and lottery while earmarking Rs 8,233 crore for irrigation projects in its budget for 2017-18 with an estimated revenue deficit of Rs 4,511 crore.
Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar presented his third straight budget, which he described as “agriculture-centric,” in the assembly amid vociferous demand by the Opposition for a farm loan waiver.
He said the BJP-led government has taken a major decision to merge plan and non-plan expenditure from 2017-18.
“The focus will now be on capital expenditure. This change will allow each department to use the entire fund allocated to it effectively instead of only the plan component which is 25 per cent of the total budget size,” he said.
After the merger, the concept of plan outlay will cease to exist, said the finance minister and added: “A sum of Rs 77,184 crore has been earmarked for various schemes.”
He said in FY18, the revenue receipt is estimated at Rs 2,43,737 crore and revenue expenditure at Rs 2,48,242 crore. Consequently, there will be a revenue deficit worth Rs 4,511-crore.
Mungantiwar said the government will try to reduce the deficit by cutting down avoidable expenditure and ensuring effective revenue recoveries.He proposed to increase the value-added tax (VAT) from 23.08 per cent to 25.93 per cent on the maximum retail price of the foreign liquor, the IMFL and the country liquor.
Mungantiwar also proposed to raise tax on weekly lottery from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh. The tax proposals are expected to result in additional gain of Rs 396 crore.
Describing the budget as “agriculture-centric,” the minister said a provision of Rs 8,233-crore has been made for various irrigation projects.
He earmarked Rs 100 crore for micro-irrigation projects in Yavatmal and Wardha districts which will be completed using Israeli technology.
Mungantiwar said the government proposes to double the farm income by 2021. To achieve this, it has decided to focus on irrigation, electricity, farm ponds, food processing, technology, marketing, group farming and agriculture credit.
The farm loan waiver issue, which has been dominating the proceedings ever since the budget session began last week, again hogged the limelight.
Opposition members, including Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress), former finance ministers Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil (both NCP), were on their feet seeking relief for cultivators in form of a debt waiver.
The members displayed banners, played cymbals and made loud noises as the minister read out his speech.