MUMBAI: In a bid to ensure a smooth passage of the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) bill at the upcoming special session of the state legislature, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar today called on Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his residence here.
The finance minister's move came days after Thackeray raised concern over the loss the BMC will suffer on account of the abolition of octroi once the Goods and Services Tax (GST) comes into effect from July 1 this year.
Speaking to reporters at his office in Mantralaya here, Mungantiwar said his meeting with Thackeray was "positive" and that a draft of the SGST bill will be sent to the Sena chief for his study.
The special three-day session of the state legislature will be held to ratify the SGST Bill between May 20 and May 22.
"Uddhav ji was apprehensive about the BMC having to depend on the Centre and the state government for compensation and its share of revenue," the minister said.
He explained that even after the Centre stops compensating BMC, the state will continue to compensate not only the BMC for loss in octroi revenue, but also other municipal corporations in the state which shall also face loss in revenue due to abolition of Local Bodies Tax (LBT).
Mungantiwar said by the proposed SGST law, the government will guarantee that civic bodies like the BMC shall get monthly assured funds with interest if there is any delay in the release of funds by the Centre.
"This year, the BMC's estimated revenue income by way of octori was pegged at Rs 7,200 crore. Considering the average natural rise in revenue income over the last decade, the state has assured the BMC of compensating it at the rate of 8 per cent which is double the revenue income of the BMC by way of octroi," he said.
The minister further said that the government will release funds to all the municipal corporations one month in advance.
"Revenue income of all the 26 municipal corporations in the state stands at Rs 13,000 crore now. Out of which the revenue income of the BMC alone was Rs 7,200 crore, whereas the revenue income of other municipal corporations was about Rs 6,500 crore," Mungantiwar said.
Stating that the revenue income of these civic bodies rises every year, he said the government will have to compensate them in case of loss of revenue.
Considering the fact that the state will have no role in raising tax revenue after the GST comes into effect, Mungantiwar said that in order to raise states' income, the state will have to devise new ways like raising the non-tax revenue.
"There are about 17,000 lease rent properties in Mumbai alone whose lease rent needs to be considered for revision. Besides, there are some charges on the purchase of new vehicles; raise some fines like those on drunken driving, land valuation rates," he said.
He added that there are about 150-odd ways through which the state government can raise the non-tax revenues.
"The state's estimated non-tax revenue this fiscal is pegged at Rs 19,000 crore, which was revised to Rs 16,619 crore," he said, adding that the government intends to take steps to raise the non-tax revenue to Rs 25,000 to Rs 26,000 crore.
According to Mungantiwar, the current tax revenue of state stood at Rs 1,37,230 crore while the capital investment at Rs 35,940 crore.
The government anticipates a 14 per cent rise in the tax revenue over the next five years, he added. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader and state Industries Minister Subhash Desai said that Mungantiwar has agreed to the demands made by the Sena.
"Sena cares about the interests of Mumbai and it had to solve many problems. The talks (between Mungantiwar and Thackeray) focused on the need to ensure that BMCs fiscal discipline does not derail," he said.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress has taken a dim view of Mungantiwar calling on Thackeray.
"What is the need to convene a special session of the state legislature (later this month) if Thackeray is to take a decision regarding the passage of the GST?" asked Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.