A climbdown on a taxing target

HYDERABAD Jan. 25. Expecting drought to impact realisation of commercial taxes, the State Government has slashed the targeted growth rate in the tax collections in the coming financial year.

Against the 15 per cent growth contemplated in the current year to earn Rs. 8,440 crores, the Government has targeted only 13 per cent growth next year but yet the realisations were expected to fetch Rs. 9,565 crores, Rs. 1,125 crores more than last year. The increase in the revenue was expected due to the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) from April 1. The Government also took into account a revenue loss of Rs. 500 crores owing to input tax credit following VAT implementation while fixing the target for collections next year.

This picture was presented in the budget proposals of the Commercial Taxes Department for 2003-2004 as announced by the Minister, K. Vijayarama Rao, on Saturday. He said the severe drought had already impacted tax realisation and it would continue for the best part of next year. With a poor kharif and no prospects of rabi, the department could not enforce collection drive strictly.

The Health Minister, K. Sivaprasada Rao, presented the budget of Medical and Health estimating their plan and non-plan expenditure at Rs. 1,538 crores, Rs. 11 crores less than the current year. The proposals included increasing seats in post-graduate medical courses, recruitment of teachers and implementation of UGC pay scales for them and improving the quality of medical education.

Mr. Vijayarama Rao presented the budget for the Prohibition and Excise Department which estimated a revenue of Rs. 2,170 crores. The income of the the Transport Department as presented by the Minister, M. Damodar Reddy, was estimated at Rs. 800 crores from private transport and Rs. 298 crores from APSRTC while the plan and non-plan expenditure of the department was expected to be Rs. 53.60 crores.

Mr. Vijayarama Rao also released the budget of the Revenue Department which envisaged carrying out improvements to the 55 lakh acres of land assigned to the poor by synchronising it with the Velugu project. A Rs. 39 crore Central assistance would be used for land records management, survey and computerisation to give the assignees the benefit of Velugu.

The Higher Education Minister, N. Md. Farooq, said the grants for various universities in the budget of the Higher Education Department were envisaged at Rs. 210 crores. This was out of a total non-plan expenditure of Rs. 234 crores.

There was no increase planned in the registration charges, estimated to fetch Rs. 1,010 crores in 2003-2004. The Registration Department also feared that the drought would affect the recovery of revenue.

The Animal Husbandry Minister, N. Kishtappa, presenting the departmental budget, said the Government proposed to fill the 545 vacancies in veterinary hospitals. The 224 passouts from colleges who are unemployed would be absorbed for the jobs.

The Information Minister, S. Chandramohan Reddy, said Rs. 24.47 crores would be spent on publicity out of a budget of Rs. 45.72 crores of the Information and Public Relations Department.