Meghalaya CM presents tax-free deficit budget

Shillong, Mar 10 (PTI) Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday presented a deficit budget for the financial year 2021-22 without proposing any new tax.

It is estimated that the total receipts will be Rs 17,509 crore including borrowings to the tune of Rs 2,247 crore, said Sangma who also holds the finance portfolio.

The total expenditure is expected to be Rs 17,603 crore which included repayment of loans of Rs 771 crore, interest payment of Rs 1,047 crore and pension payment of Rs 1,303 crore.

Though the amount of tax transfers from the Centre has been reduced owing to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the chief minister said that the government has prudently managed the state finances and has ensured availability of resources to all critical sectors.

“The budget estimates were Rs 5,999 crore, while the revised estimates were Rs 4,207 crore, a shortfall of Rs 1,792 crore,” he said.

The chief minister informed the assembly that the 15th Finance Commission has submitted its final report to the Government of India and recommended Rs 39,012 crore for the state for the 2021-26 period.

“For 2021-22, the share of central taxes is estimated at Rs 5,105 crore and the revenue gap grant is Rs 1,279 crore,” he said.

Excise taxes and tax from auction of 32 lakh metric ton of extracted coal are expected to fetch Rs 350 crore each but non-tax revenue collection is expected to be Rs 374 crore, a reduction of about 29 per cent from last year.

“Accordingly, I have estimated Rs 2,579 crore and Rs 694 crore for tax and non-tax revenue collection respectively,” Sangma said.

He said that the state government is communicating with the Union Home Ministry for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in the state.

The ILP is a travel document required by outsiders, including people from other states of the country, to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

The Centre decided to extend the ILP regime to Manipur in December 2019 to allay fears of the people of the northeastern state about the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Meghalaya assembly had adopted a resolution demanding implementation of ILP in the state at that time.

“We are following up with the Government of India on this very important issue,” Conrad told the Assembly.

The CM announced the year 2021-22 as the Year of the Youth and allocated Rs 10 crore for skill development of the youths of the state.

“Every youth of the state will be supported to take up one skill and one talent. The skill and talent providers will also be from within the state leading to entrepreneurship and employment,” he said.

Sangma announced incentives for athletes as provided in the sports policy and under this scheme, 264 athletes have been identified, he said.

On tourism, Sangma said that the state government is creating 500 high-value rooms in the next two years under the externally aided experiential eco-tourism project.

He also informed the house that the process of setting up Shillong Peak ropeway is underway and Rs 30 crore has been allocated for the project.

The state government also allocated Rs 820 crore for the health sector, 802 crore for the water supply sector and Rs 559 crore for the agriculture sector.