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West Bengal presents a Rs 40-mn deficit Budget

West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta presented a Rs 40 million 'limited deficit Budget' for 2002-2003 on Friday.

Proposing a series of tax reliefs for a host of items, Dasgupta said though it would result in a revenue loss of Rs 250 million, additional surcharge and other tax proposals would simultaneously yield an additional revenue of Rs 3.76 billion.

However, since the net additional revenue would be around Rs 3.51 billion, the net deficit would come to only Rs 40 million after deducting the sum from the previous deficit of Rs 3.55 billion, he said.

Increasing the income of the common people was his 'sole objective', the finance minister said and proposed tax reduction on some consumer items by three per cent from the present 15 per cent.

The items included domestic electrical equipment of various kinds, cooking range, rice cooker, coffee machine, music system and gramaphones.

To provide relief to the dealers, he also proposed reduction of the interest rate by half on outstanding sales tax from the present two per cent per month.

To boost the information technology services, the finance minister proposed to reduce the tax on telephone sets including hand sets, cellular phones and electronic calculators from the present 12 per cent to only four per cent. Similarly the rate of tax on pager was also proposed to be reduced from eight to four per cent.

Referring to imposition of luxury tax on certain imported items, Dasgupta said he proposed to extend the tax net on imported paper and converted paper products but exempted silk yarn from its purview for the benefit of export.

The government also proposed not to impose any entertainment tax on tickets within Rs 40 for admission to musical soiree and theatrical performances. But at the same time it had sought to impose a similar tax of 20 per cent for entry into amusement parks like aqua parks, theme parks or pool game parlours or bowling complexes, Dasgupta said in his Budget speech.

The Budget proposes Rs 100 per month increase in pensions of retired persons. Also the freedom fighters will get increased pension from Rs 900 to Rs 1,000 per month.

He announced certain steps for simplification of sales tax structure primarily to help the dealers engaged in various trade and industries.

To mobilise additional resources, the Dasgupta imposed a turnover tax at a low rate of 0.5 per cent on re-sale of goods, but LPG, diesel and petrol, Kerosene oil and furnace oil would be exempted.

The minister imposed a surcharge of 10 per cent on sales tax with effect from April 1. However, there would be no surcharge on the sale of essential commodities like rice, wheat, edible oil, tea, matches, baby food and kerosene oil.

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