Maha govt yet to recover dues worth ₹76,000 crore
The state government, whose debt burden has crossed Rs3.70 lakh crore, is yet to reclaim Rs75,874 crore in the form of unrecovered taxes and non-tax revenue for 2015-16...
If numbers are the yardstick to measure Maharashtra’s financial health, then those presented in the documents tabled by finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on March 18 are unhealthy.
The state government, whose debt burden has crossed Rs3.70 lakh crore, is yet to reclaim Rs75,874 crore in the form of unrecovered taxes and non-tax revenue for 2015-16. What makes the situation alarming is that the figure is almost 21% higher as compared to Rs62,907 crore in 2014-15, during which the annual deficit on collection was around 10%. This deficit could lead to implementation of additional taxes and an increase in the existing ones.
As per the numbers tabled by Mungantiwar, the state is yet to recover Rs51,000 crore in unrealised sales tax and value-added tax (VAT) on various goods, including that of motor spirits and lubricants. On the other hand, the unrecovered amount from the central sales tax is a whopping Rs17,874 crore. The other big tax recoveries pending are land revenue (Rs909 crore), minor minerals (Rs 974 crore), goods and passengers (Rs668 crore) and entry (Rs 466 crore). Of the total Rs3,074 crore to be recovered as non-tax revenue, Rs 440 crore are from the interest receipts and Rs 445 crore from the police services.
Of the Rs72,800 crore in unrealised tax revenue, about 70% (Rs51,170 crore) is disputed because the payees have either moved the tribunals or the courts. In most of the cases, traders moved court to buy more time to clear their respective dues. The amnesty scheme launched by the state government, expecting more traders to come forward to clear sales tax, met with a lukewarm response as it managed to collect Rs1,921 crore under the 2016-17 scheme.
“The figures against the unrealised revenue are high for the last year owing to technical reasons. Assesses from outside the state do not submit relevant forms in time and then move court seeking reprieve,” Rajiv Jalota, sales tax commissioner, told HT. “Some of the sales tax dues are decades old and remained unrecovered due to various reasons such as untraceable or migrated assesses. Dues pending are higher in the last four years as proper assessment begun only after VAT was introduced. We are trying to recover every possible amount through amnesty scheme launched this fiscal. About 41,000 appeals were disposed off with recovery of Rs1,921 crore and settlements worth Rs1,950 crore.”
Tax experts have attributed the accumulation of pending dues to the negligence of authorities and lack of tech-friendly approach. “Last year, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar stressed on the need to recover pending dues. However, nothing has happened till date and the amount is rising with each passing year. The government has failed to use the e-governance effectively,” said Rupesh Keer, coordinator of NGO Samarthan which analyses state budgets.