GST a boon for AP: Finance Minister (AP)

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AP Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu on Thursday said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime will not hurt the interests of the State in any manner. In an interaction with a section of the media ahead of his budget presentation scheduled on March 13 in the Assembly, he said, instead, the cash-strapped state government is eagerly looking up to the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime for a better slice in the cake. “Basically our state is a consumer state.

In addition, AP with a low tax revenue collection status during 2014-15 (below 14 per cent) is entitled adequate share in GST,” he said. “Although we are at loss in terms of fiscal autonomy like any other state after the advent of the GST, the new tax regime will act against evasion of taxes, leading to shore up the revenue share of the states,” the FM said.
Ramakrishnudu was getting ready, doing a lot of homework for his feat, took his time off from his busy schedule to share his piece mind over salient features of the budget with the media in his chambers at the transit secretariat. The Finance Ministry is making preparations to distribute soft copies of the budget uploaded in tabs, each costing Rs 25,000, to all the 176 members in the Assembly and 58 members in the Legislative Council.
He hinted that growing revenue deficit and public debt are inescapable features of his annual budget.  Caught in a web of welfare-development conflict, severe financial constraints, and compulsions driven by identity politics, Ramakrishnudu, a law graduate who served as a Finance Minister for several times in the TDP regime, was giving finishing touches to the budget.

The FM said the State’s revenue deficit is expected to touch 3.5 per cent in ratio of State Gross Domestic Product (GSDP) as against the limit of 3.1 per cent enforced by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBMA) while public debts may reach Rs 1.5 lakh crore from Rs 1.35 lakh crore in the previous financial year.

“Of course, the State has been reeling under severe resource crunch and financial difficulties. But our government is committed for both welfare and development,” FM said with a promise to ensure adequate allocations for the welfare of the BC, SC, ST and minority welfare without hurting development. It is proposed to establish an authority to help micro, small and medium enterprises sector bounce back from crisis.

The Budget will focus on revival of the sector with 6,000 units, most of which remain closed, he explained. The budget seeks to ameliorate the most backward castes (MBCs) within the backward classes by creating a corporation with sufficient funds.

The below poverty line (BPL) families within the forward castes will also receive financial assistance for their welfare on the lines of the BC, SC and ST welfare, the FM explained. Ramakrishnudu said the budget will provide for an outlay for allowance to the jobless youths in line with the government’s election-eve commitment.
Dismissing the criticism that the government’s development agenda was revolving around Amaravati only, he said the budget will address regional imbalances in growth. In a bid to drive his point home, he recalled the government’s drive to promote airports, industries and the other infrastructure development in the backward Kurnool and Anantapur districts.

As for the yawning revenue deficit, he treaded caution while talking of flow of funds from the ally of NDA government. When a reporter asked whether the NDA government has gone back from its promise with regard to bridging the revenue deficit, he shot back, “No, no. it is not fair to say that the Centre has gone back from its commitment. We ask for something more and they (Centre) give something less.

There is always this gap in giving and taking between the States and the Centre,” Ramakrishnudu said. He said the state government has estimated its revenue deficit triggered by the bifurcation at Rs 16,000 crore. But the Centre has arrived at Rs 8,000 crore through its own assessment.
“Even as the State has received Rs 4,000 crore towards gap filling so far, we are expecting the next spell of funds under this head from the Centre soon,” he observed.

The Hans India, 10 March 2017

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