Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari on Monday said that despite Centre’s delay in clearing the long pending GST compensation dues and the financial crunch that has arisen because of the COVID-19 induced lockdown and economic downturn, the state government has provided priority funding to the Departments of Public Health, Medical Education and Drugs, Relief and Rehabilitation, Food and Civil Supplies and Home during the pandemic. To stimulate the economy, the state government has provided for 75% of the budgetary provision for capital expenditure and released 100% money to the Local Development Fund, district planning committee schemes and Dongri Vikas Karyakram (hilly region development).
Governor at the joint session of the state legislature on the first day of the 10-day budget session said by the end of February 2021, the Centre owes dues worth Rs 46,950 crore towards GST. ‘’The Central Government has paid just Rs 6140 crore and Rs 11,520 crore as loan for Goods and Services Tax compensation. Goods and Services Tax Compensation to the tune of Rs 29,290 crore is overdue from the Central Government,’’ he noted.
Governor’s statement comes day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackray who had slammed the BJP led government at the Centre for clearing the GST compensation arrears.
Governor said Covid lockdown has slowed down the State economy in addition to a medical emergency and natural calamities. Out of the revenue collection target of Rs 3,47,456 crore, the State has collected just Rs 1,88,542 crore at the end of January 2021. This is 35% less than the budgetary estimate and 21% lower than the collection in the same period in the previous year.
Further, Governor said the state government is pursuing with the Centre for increasing the grant in aid receivable in accordance with the recommendations of the 15th Central Finance Commission.
‘’Considering the Covid situation and economic condition, my Government is pursuing with the Central Government for increasing the contribution of the Central Government in the Central schemes,’’ he noted.
According to the Governor, last year was not only a year of medical emergency but also presented several economic challenges. As jobs and livelihoods were affected, the state government undertook a massive humanitarian aid programmes.
‘’Under the National Food Security Act, wheat, rice and coarse grains were distributed to about 7 crore people at just Rs 1 to 3 per kg. My Government also provided food grains to about 40 lakh farmers from 14 suicide-prone districts at the cost of nearly Rs 750 crore. Besides about 17,000 tons of rice and 762 tons of chana dal was distributed to 35 lakhs stranded and migrant labourers, workers and students without ration cards,’’ he said.
Governor said the state government not only tackled the medical crisis but also successfully handled multiple natural disasters. The Nisarg cyclone devastated certain areas of the coastal region of Konkan. Rs 609 crore of relief was paid to the persons affected by this cyclone, at enhanced rates. Rs 179 crore were distributed for flood relief in Nagpur.
In addition, heavy rainfall and floods from June to October, 2020 caused widespread damage to life, cattle, agricultural crops, houses and public properties. ‘’A package of Rs 10,000 crore for the damages caused due to this calamity has been announced. Rs 5,500 crore was earmarked to farmers for crop damages. The rate of relief for damages to agricultural crops was enhanced to Rs 10,000 per hectare and Rs 25,000 for perennial crops which are more than NDRF rates and relief of Rs 4,500 crore was released,’’ he added.
Despite the financial crunch the “Mahatma Jotirao Phule Shetkari Karjmukti Yojana” was completed by the state government by paying off the debt of 30.85 lakh farmers amounting to Rs 19,684 crore. In this difficult year, a sum of Rs 7,000 crore was provided for this.
Furthermore, despite the industrial slowdown Maharashtra attracted more than Rs 1 lakh crore in domestic and foreign direct investments. During the lockdown 66,000 permissions were issued online to start various industries and the state government also launched the Maha Job Portal to facilitate employment.
In order to kick start the economy, stamp duty on instruments of conveyance or agreements to sell and lease of any immovable property was reduced. This concession significantly increased the number of registrations in the State and in the urban local bodies, 50% concession in the various types of premium levied by the Government has been announced. ‘’My Government also directed all Planning Authorities and Local Authorities to take a decision regarding 50% concession in the premium levied at their level. This has boosted sale and purchase of properties,’’ he noted.
Governor said the state government took several measures for control and management of the COVID-19 pandemic which have become a model for the rest of States and even in other countries. ‘’Maharashtra has most effectively managed the epidemic by bringing down the number of active cases and successfully dealing with difficult settlements like Dharavi,’’ he viewed.
Governor’s statement also comes day after the opposition BJP has alleged a rampant corruption in handling COVID 19 crisis especially in Mumbai. Thackeray has already refuted these charges.