Staff Reporter

Kerala Finance Minister holds pre-budget discussions

Kozhikode: Kerala Minister for Finance T.M. Thomas Isaac held pre-budget discussions with representatives of various organisations, including the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi, at the District Collectorate here on Sunday. Usually this pre-budget exercise was conducted in Thiruvananthapuram only, but this time the department was holding discussions in three major zones of the State, the Minister said.

Crisis

Later speaking to mediapersons, he said the economy of the State was going through a crisis. The only way to tide over it was to mop up revenue. Earlier, 75 per cent of the revenue came from sales tax. Now, it was Value Added Tax (VAT) that contributed to 60 per cent of the total revenue.

In the last fiscal, the State was able to collect Rs. 3,100 crore through VAT. This was expected to increase to Rs. 4,500 crore in the current financial year. In the next fiscal, the target would be Rs. 6,000 crore, Dr. Isaac said.

The Minister said tax system would be structured without affecting the trading community. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government had cordial relations with traders and businessmen and would continue to do so in the coming years, he said. Mr. Isaac said the revenue had increased by 3.5 per cent. He expressed the hope that it would increase to 16 per cent by 2010-2011. The Government wanted the support of the traders in this regard. However, there should not be a system where some paid taxes while others evaded them, he said.

Regarding the Lucky VAT scheme, he said it was a success although it had a few disadvantages. Seeing the positive response to it, States such as Gujarat and Assam were going ahead with a similar scheme. However, its success depended upon the participation of the public and the traders.

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