Cut inflation, bring focus on Bundelkhand 200

Leading economists hope the Centre will introduce the General Sales Tax regime.

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Uttar Pradesh would like Finance Minister P Chidambaram to announce more stringent measures to control inflation, as well as a special package for the Bundelkhand region in the southern part of the state.

Surendra Mohan Agarwal, Financial Advisor to the chief minister, said top priority should be given to controlling inflation, which had upset the budget of every household. Special measures should also be un dertaken to bring down home loan interest rates, Agarwal added. The state government is expecting cuts in excise and customs duties on essential commodities to bring down the rate of inflation.

Agarwal also demanded a special package for the Bundelkhand region. He noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently announced a special package for the farmers of the Maharashtra’s Vidarbha. There have been stray reports of farmers committing suicide in Bundelkhand too though the state government has been denying them.

Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had earlier already demanded a special package of nearly Rs 18,000 crore for the development of Uttar Pradesh. There has also been a demand for tax concessions similar to those enjoyed by neighbouring Uttarakhand (because of its hilly terrain) for those industrial units situated close to the Ut tarakhand border. Though no official figures are available, senior bureaucrats maintain that a considerable number industrial units have shifted to Uttarakhand recently to take advantage of these concessions.

Leading economists hope that the Centre will introduce the General Sales Tax (GST) regime in the forthcoming union budget itself. "UP would have higher revenue collections if this is done," AK Singh, Director of the Giri Institute of Development Studies (GIDS), Lucknow, stated. In fact even Value Added Tax (VAT) has yet to be introduced in the state. But Singh maintained UP would have no option but to switch to VAT sooner or later.

DM Diwakar, Professor of Economics at GIDS said the Finance Minister could well make some populist announcements, and grant concessions to UP in view of the forthcoming assembly polls in the State. What Uttar Pradesh deserves from the Union Budget are some agri-focused packages aimed at improving infrastructure, farm products delivery support systems and more credit for the farmers, he said.

First Published: Feb 24, 2007 00:25 IST