Pre-budget meeting with the State Finance Ministers
Jaipur, The Chief Minister Smt. Vasundhara Raje has requested for increase in the centre's share in the metro-projects. She also suggested for re-modelling of Central Pay Commission.
Smt. Raje was addressing the pre-budget meeting of the Finance Ministers of States chaired by the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitely in New Delhi on Monday.
The Chief Minister said that the union government wants to have 50% share in states metro projects and also wishes to appoint its own chairperson, while contributing only 20% of the cost of the project. She advocated strongly for removal of this inequality. Central government should either give 20% share as grant or should claim only 20% share in the metro project,She suggested.
Smt. Raje said that the states should be consulted prior to setting up of Central Pay Commission and be give due representation. The central commission had now become a pay commission for the states as well, due to which all the states were forced to give pay scales at par with the centre. The central government gets some relief due to increase in income tax collections, but the states had to bear it fully. She further suggested for the centre to share this burden of the state as well.
The Chief Minister requested for immediate withdrawal of anti-dumping duty on equipments in order to promote solar power sector. She said that due to imposition of anti-dumping duty on solar cells or modules, the cost of solar power would increase and result in dependence on environment-unfriendly thermal power. She also argued for urgent roll back of anti-dumping duty in regard to the state government's ambitious 25 giga watt solar power plant projects.
Advocating strongly for imposition of General Sales Tax (GST) as early as from April 1, 2015 onwards, Smt. Raje said that central sales taxes were supposed to be reduced to zero by 2005, while it was still continuing to be levied at 2%. If the CST rates were made at par with VAT of the states, it would result in barring tax arbitrages,She observed.
The Chief Minister said that the new land acquisition law would have a negative impact on the infrastructure development and investment plans. She welcomed better compensation for the farmers, but argued that the negative impacts of high land costs on the country's production capacity also be stopped. She suggested for shortening of long procedures under this Act and promotion of voluntary partnership of the farmers.
Smt. Raje said that the recommendations of the Finance Commission were the correct and constitutional means for devolution of funds to the states from the central pool of taxes. But, much expansion of the central schemes would have negative impact on the flexibility of the state government schemes. She also condemned the discretionary and arbitrary channels such as special central assistance and special plan assistance for transfer of funds to some states.
The Chief Minister said that 10% tax on gold imports had created 1970s like scenario of smuggling and it was likely to bring back the mafia into action. She suggested for a budget announcement for reducing the present 10% custom duty on gold imports by 2% every trimester and bring it to 2% level in a year.
Smt. Raje said that the toilet and medicinal preparations, containing alcohol levied under Article 268, should be specified so that the states would collect excise duty on such items. She further suggested for reducing the interest rates and envisaging realistic monetary policy in order to increase investment in infrastructure instead of focusing on creation of new employment opportunities.
The Chief Minister said that the inflation control should be our top priority. Investment should be made in cold-chain sector for sustainable supplies of vegetables and fruits. She said that during previous government the inflation was high, while growth rate, employment was low and industrial growth rate was almost zero. But, the outcome of recent elections had raised expectations of prices to get down. Re-emergence of industrial growth, jobs and investment in infrastructure had also been expected.
Smt. Raje further said that 51% shareholding of a private company or firm for viability gap funding (VGF) was baseless idea. If government share was not more than 50%, the company would be a private firm only.
The Union Minister of State for Finance Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Secretary Shri Arvind Mayaram, State’s Chief Secretary Shri Rajiv Mehrishi and Principal Secretary Finance Shri Subhash Garg , Shri G S Sandhu, Shri Rajeev Takaru, Shri Ratan P. Vatal were also present in the meeting.