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Surplus Meghalaya Budget tabled, more taxes slapped

Continuing with the state's current resource mobilisation policies, Meghalaya Finance Minister A H Scott Lyngdoh slapped taxes on most items to net in more than Rs 100 million in the surplus Budget for 2002-2003 tabled at the Assembly Shillong on Tuesday.

Lyndoh doubled the surcharge rate on all items, except motor vehicles, under the sales tax act, slapped 20 per cent purchase tax on timber and hiked the amusement and betting tax to 50 per cent.

The Budget, almost hard on all sections, was lenient on motorcar owners.

''Keeping in view the dependency of the people of Meghalaya on road transport, I propose to reduce the rate of surcharge on tax in respect of motor cars, omni buses, vans, trucks, chasis and all varieties of trailer and tyre from existing rate of ten per cent to zero with immediate effect,'' the finance minister said.

Last year, the finance minister proposed several fresh taxes making cigarette, petroleum products and mobile phone connection dearer in the state.

Lyndoh said the budgetary receipts under public accounts were estimated at Rs 163.53 billion against a corresponding expenditure of Rs 163.09 billion. With the current surplus of Rs 356 million, the Budget left a surplus of Rs 794 billion, he added.

The proposed additional taxation measures announced by the finance minister included an increase in the rate of surcharge on all items under the Meghalaya Sales Tax Act, Meghalaya Purchase Tax Act and Meghalaya Finance Sales Tax Act from ten per cent to twenty per cent.

Amusement and betting tax on 'teer', a legalised form of gambling in the state, was hiked to 50 per cent from the present 40 per cent, he said, adding that the Meghalaya purchase tax on timber, excluding firewood, was increased from eight per cent to 20 per cent.

Expecting that the new additional resource mobilisation measures would help improve the state's fiscal health, Scott Lyngdoh said the year aimed at closing with adequate revenue surplus to qualify for further release from the incentive fund during the following year.

He said the non-plan expenditure envisaged an outlay of Rs 11.38 billion adding fiscal measures would continue to contain it, but ''critical and unavoidable segments of expenditure have been protected and sufficiently provided for''.

The minister said letter of credit and allotment which had been introduced in all departments, except for payment of salaries and allowances, would continue to control spending from the public exchequer.

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