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You may have to pay higher toll

mumbai Updated: Mar 12, 2010 01:47 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Planning Commission

If the state government’s meet with the Planning Commission on Thursday is any indication, the upcoming state budget is likely to pinch your pocket.

Be ready to shell out more money for user charges like toll for roads in the state.

“There is a limit to which one can hike taxes. The state is looking at other ways to increase revenue,’’ said Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Chavan spoke to journalists after a meeting in Delhi with the Planning Commission to discuss the state’s annual plan [planned expenditure on development schemes].

Government officials said instead of raising taxes, the state was looking at alternate means like hiking toll, vehicle registration fees, fees for registering documents, and hospital charges.

The state is also considering an increase in lease rents on government land or disposing the properties of to earn revenue. The state wants to mobilise resources to ensure it does not have to cut down its annual planned expenditure.

The Commission wants Maharashtra to curb its fiscal deficit [when total expenditure exceeds revenue].

The state’s fiscal deficit is currently 3.2 per cent of the total output. This means the state is spending more than it earns through taxes and other sources.

The overall state debt [accumulation of yearly deficits] is Rs 1.85 lakh crore.

Fiscal deficit can be controlled if the state lowers its spending through a modest annual plan and hikes taxes, say experts. But, the state is not keen on either.

“The planning department had suggested a modest annual plan but most Democratic Front ministers are unhappy with this,’’ bureaucrat said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Planning Commission member, Narendra Jadhav, said like Maharashtra most states are facing the stress of reducing fiscal deficit. “States can increase tax compliance or increase user charges, if it does not want to increase taxation, to meet expenditure requirements,’’ Jadhav said.

He added that the final meeting with the state would be held on March 30.

The state will announce its budget on March 25.

Cabinet to expand after budget session

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Thursday said he was likely to fill in vacant posts of Congress ministers after the budget session.

As many as five ministerial berths from the Congress quota are still vacant since November 2009 when Chavan took over as Chief Minister.