Maharashtra Budget: Local Body Tax to go from August 1; Sops for Farmers, Women

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Mumbai:  Keeping up its poll promise, the BJP-Shiv Sena Government in Maharashtra today proposed to scrap the Local Body Tax (LBT) from August 1 in its maiden Budget that largely spared the common man of harsh imposts while announcing a slew of measures for farmers, women and students.

The Rs. 1,98,230.50-crore Budget for 2015-16, presented by Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar in the Assembly, made a provision of Rs. 6,875 crore to civic bodies, except Mumbai, to compensate for the losses they will suffer after abolition of LBT, which is levied on entry of goods into a local area for consumption, use or sale.

While extending tax exemption on a range of essentials like rice, wheat, pulses and flour, he announced proposals to net a revenue of Rs. 643 crore which included a 5 per cent entry tax on long steel and 12.5 per cent tax on wood-free and re-laminated particle boards.

As per the Budget, which shows a surplus of Rs. 107.10 crore, the total plan size of the State is Rs. 54,999 crore, while revenue deficit would be Rs. 3,757.40 crore.

As a sop to salaried women, the ceiling to levying professional tax was enhanced to Rs. 10,000, which will benefit about 1.5 lakh women.

The Budget reduced sales tax on ladies’ purse and handbags from 12.5 per cent to 5 per cent and made workbook, graph book, drawing book and laboratory book for students tax-free.

The excise duty on country liquor was pegged at 200 per cent of the manufacturing cost, or Rs. 120 per proof litre whichever is higher. Certain medicines required for treatment of cancer were exempted from tax.

Taking woes of agriculture community into account, Mr Mungantiwar announced a scheme to prevent farmer suicide with a pilot provision of Rs. 50 crore and Rs. 1,039 crore earmarked for electrification of pump sets.

He announced tax rationalisation proposals, including amendments to the VAT Act and exemption of VAT on service tax and late-fee for returns reduced from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 1,000.

Hailing the Budget as “daring”, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, heading the first BJP-led Government in the State, said the proposals would accelerate growth, lure investment with due focus on rural infrastructure and welfare of women and youth.

However, Opposition Congress and NCP dubbed the Budget as “directionless” and said it totally ignored the farmers and weaker sections.

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