New budget will be participatory, common people will be consulted, says Fince minister
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, July 12: To avoid disparities among the Northeast states and achieve a common market in the region, State Fince Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today stressed upon the need for a uniform tax policy in NE states including Sikkim.
“As the tax rate of commodities is more in Assam compared to other states in the Northeast, many consumers of the State prefer to procure goods from other NE states, where taxes are relatively low. Because of this, Assam loses a lot of sales tax revenue. To avoid such revenue loss, we need to have a uniform rate of sales tax on all commodities in NE states,” Sarma told reporters in Dispur.
Sarma said that if the Good and Services Tax (GST) bill is passed in Parliament, it would lead to economic integration of the country. This would remove the need for a uniform tax policy in NE states, but till the GST bill remains stuck in Rajya Sabha, Assam will continue to suffer revenue loss.
“Given such a situation, implementing a uniform sales tax policy is important for us,” he pointed out.
Sarma said that if the chief ministers of all NE states including Sikkim agree upon it, there won’t be any difficulty in adopting a uniform sales tax policy in the region.
Sarma also said that the forthcoming State budget to be tabled in the Assembly on July 26 will be participatory in ture.
“We will be preparing a participatory budget. Earlier, only groups and parties were consulted for budget preparation. This year, we are inviting suggestion from common people as well,” he said.
“From next year, we plan to ensure people’s participation in large numbers in the budget making exrecise. The DCs of all districts will be asked to hold semirs and meetings with common people and forward their suggestions,” Sarma added.
Reacting to statewide protests over hiking of VAT rates, Sarma claimed that there have been no increase in the price of any commodity following the hiking of VAT rates by one per cent. In this context, he pointed out that there is a huge gap between the basic price and retail price of commodities.
The Fince minister also informed that the Assam Drug Dealers Association has given him a written assurance that VAT increase will not lead to rise in medicine prices in the State. The prices of 30 medicines have actually gone down, he claimed.