Ahead of Panchayat Elections in West Bengal, state finance minister Amit Mitra presented a budget with an increased focus on welfare schemes, but without any rise in taxes.
Under the goods and services tax (GST) regime, the state's own tax revenue increased by around 10 per cent in 2017-18 at about Rs 501 billion. However, it remained short of target, which was set at Rs 558 billion set for this year. The total revenue receipts of the government saw an increase of about 13 per cent at Rs 1330 billion. According to state finance minister, Amit Mitra, against Rs 18.50 billion receivable so far under IGST , the centre is yet to release Rs 10 billion for the state.
The outstanding debt of the government increased to nearly Rs 3640 billion and is expected to further increase to Rs 3948 billion next financial year. The loan repayment bill for this year has been about Rs 472 billion, which is almost same the state's own tax collection of about Rs 500 billion.
Among the sops rolled out is the reduction of stamp duty by one per cent in rural and urban areas on properties of value up to Rs 10 million, full tax exemption to tea gardens from payment of agriculture income tax for the next two financial years, exemption from education and rural employment cess to tea gardens in the next financial year and exemption of mutation fees for farmers. This apart, the monthly pension to farmers have been raised from Rs 750 to Rs 1000. Monthly payments under the state's flagship girl education scheme, Kanyashree, too has been raised from Rs 750 to Rs 1000. In addition, the state government will provide Rs 25000 as one time assistance to girls for marriage purposes in families with annual income less than Rs 105,000. The government has also rolled out a new monthly pension scheme of Rs 1000 to disabled persons.
The total expenditure of the state for 2017-18 stood at Rs 1860 billion, against about Rs 1575 billion last year, an increase of about 18 per cent. Next financial year, the total expenditure is expected to rise to Rs 1958 billion, a rise of about 5.26 per cent.
West Bengal's fiscal deficit this year has been pegged at about Rs 270 billion, against Rs 254 billion last year.
West Bengal's GSDP growth has been around 11.46 per cent for 2017-18. Also, the fiscal deficit to GSDP ratio remained at 2.56 per cent, against 4.24 per cent in 2010-11. Also the revenue deficit to GSDP ratio remained at 1.62 per cent, against 3.75 per cent in 2010-11, according to the state Economic Review.
West Bengal chief minister also announced setting up Silicon Valley Asia in West Bengal, which would led to an increase in job creation. The chief minister said that in the last six years nearly 8.1 million new jobs have been created. Also, about 90 per cent of the state population has been availing food grains at subsidized rates, she said. , the centre is yet to release Rs 10 billion for the state.