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Home / Mumbai News / Allow liquor sale, open up realty sector to revive state economy, expert panel recommends

Allow liquor sale, open up realty sector to revive state economy, expert panel recommends

mumbai Updated: Apr 30, 2020, 23:48 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge

An expert panel, set up by the state government earlier this month, has suggested that sale of alcohol be permitted, and real estate and construction sector be opened, among other recommendations to revive the economy hit by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The panel’s report, with recommendations to get the state economy back on track, is likely to be submitted to the government this week, said additional chief secretary, finance, Manoj Saunik.

The panel, led by 11 retired and serving bureaucrats, was set up by the state cabinet to suggest ways to restart economic activity.

“The panel has recommended that excise revenue should be tapped and hence sale of alcohol be permitted. Similarly, it has also called for opening up of the real estate sector and consider reducing the stamp duty to spur demand in this sector,’’ said a member of the committee, on condition of anonymity.

The sale of liquor has been banned since the lockdown was implemented on March 25. The state government earns around Rs 17,000 to 18,000 crore annually from excise duty on liquor and an estimated Rs 26,000 crore annually from stamp duty and registrations. In this year’s budget, the state has already cut stamp duty levied on realty transactions by one per cent.

The Covid-19 outbreak and the ensuing lockdown had brought the state economy and industry to a halt. With recent relaxations on April 20, industrial units are slowly re-starting their businesses.

The state exchequer has lost an estimated Rs 40,500 crore revenue in March and April.

“The committee has emphasised on maintaining safety protocols and containment strategies even as it has recommended seamless logistics and movement of goods, safe transport of labour required for industry, increased reliance on digitisation in the functioning of businesses and prepping for an effective kharif season,’’ said a former bureaucrat and a member of the panel.

Focusing on the agriculture sector, the panel has recommended setting up of state and district control rooms to oversee kharif season preparations to ensure farmers get all inputs from seeds to credit/loans. It has also asked the state government to ensure that all Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees are kept open while following safety norms and suggested that the state seeks financing assistance from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for its co-operative banks.

The panel stated that a whole new class of businesses has emerged and will continue to do well post the outbreak, and the government must recognise these new players and encourage them.

“There could be a resurgence of the IT sector as they will be called on to provide back end services besides health, hygiene, pharma and a myriad of online players from food delivery apps to education technology. These are the companies, which will help to reignite the economy in the coming months,’’ added the former bureaucrat.

The report will be considered by a ministerial committee, led by finance minister and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, which will also take a final call on implementing these recommendations.

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