The Chief Minister Mr. Laxmikant Parsekar who is also holding the Finance Ministry in Goa presented his maiden budget 2015-2016 in Goa Assembly last week in which he has raised the VAT on petrol from 10% to 15% but promised to review it if petrol prices go beyond 60 per litre, and he also proposed a hike in the water tariff on consumers “to curb water wastage”. The budget also has provisions of major hikes in allocations to Goa state infrastructure development corporation (GSIDC) and the departments of electricity, school education and tourism. Parsekar’s budget also promised the creation of 25,000 jobs.
The total budget size for 2015-16 has been fixed at 13,331.44 crore. Considering that the revised estimate for 2014-15 was Rs 10,540.54 crore, this is an increase of 26.48% in the budget size. The plan size in 2015-16 is Rs 6,190.97 crore as against Rs 4,389.25 crore budget estimate of 2014-15; an increase of 41.05%. Parsekar declared an “unprecedented revenue surplus of Rs 408.18 crore, which is a historic achievement for the state finances.”
[pullquote-left]The finance minister also denied that the hike in water tariff would affect the common man. Officials said that the consumers using up to 15 cubic metres of water per month would still be charged at the present rate of Rs 2.5 per cubic metre of water. Only consumers above that would be charged at higher slabs to curb wasteful expenditure.[/pullquote-left]
Mr. Parsekars tall claim of creation of 25000 jobs was the major hightlihgt of the budget. According to him the jobs will be created from the Rs. 32,400 crore contract of Goa Shipyard given by the defence ministry “This will help the state government to a great extent in fulfilling our promise of providing employment to around 25,000 persons. This single order, the largest in the history of Goa will generate employment for 10,000 to 15,000 local youth,” Parsekar stated. The announcement has a bearing on the BJP government’s earlier promise to create 50,000 jobs in the next five years and also to attract investments of Rs 25,000 crore.
Briefing the media later, Mr. Parsekar mentioned that the budget is his “sincere attempt” to boost the economy and to get a higher GDP without burdening the common man. He said the budget will give a boost to various sectors like infrastructure, education, agriculture and allied sector, health and tourism. The budget announced an allocation of Rs 700 crore to the GSIDC which is “almost three and half times last year’s allocation.” Allocations (plan and non-plan) to some other departments are as follows. Electricity Rs 2126.57 crore (increase of Rs 606.96 crore), tourism Rs 260.09 crore (increase of Rs 119.15 crore), school education Rs 1116.24 crore (increase of 295.25 crore) and PWD Rs 1112.80 crore (increase of Rs 80.44 crore). Parsekar was accompanied at the briefing by finance secretary Sharad Chauhan and additional secretary finance Ameya Abhyankar.
When asked by media why the expected earnings from mining were not reflected in the budget and whether this indicated that the government was not confident that mining would resume “soon” as announced, Parsekar reiterated that mining would resume soon and his aides said that the figures in the budget were based on last year’s figures, when mining was stopped. Parsekar dismissed the suggestion that he had resorted to wide hikes in taxes to shore up revenues. But his aides said that the hike in VAT on petrol alone would earn about Rs 100 crore. While the overall collection on VAT last fiscal was Rs 2600 crore, it would be around Rs 2980 crore in 2015-16, they said.