KOCHI: The Kerala budget presented by the Finance Minister Thomas Isaac is a mixed bag for the management fraternity in Kerala. It is likely to evoke accolades for certain reform initiatives and also face criticism for several other proposals. Some of the innovative initiatives which are appreciated include the steps proposed to end manual scavenging, an Uber-model ambulance service and a specific allocation for the transgender community.
On the taxation side, several proposals have been introduced. This being the first budget after implementation of GST, several proposals which found a place in the earlier budgets are no longer relevant. The major tax change which will have an impact on the tax collection is the increase in taxes on alcohol. It is estimated the present tax revenue from liquor sales is in excess of `12,000 crore and with this upward revision of the tax rates, there will be a substantial increase in the revenue collections for the year.
The land tax which has been reintroduced may help reduce the fiscal deficit of the state.
In the 2017 budget, an ‘Amnesty Scheme’ was announced under KGST, AIT, VAT and Luxury Tax Act for settling the arrears up to the 2010-11 period. To opt for such amnesty and to pay the arrears, the period has now been extended until June 30, 2018, and this is a welcome move. The time limit for completing the assessments up to 2011-12 will expire on March 31, 2018, and this has now been extended until March 31, 2019.
However, the key issue is that the assessments are pending for several years and the management community is hoping the respective departments get geared up to complete all the prior assessments in a time-bound manner since GST has now been introduced.Overall, the management community in Kerala is reasonably happy with the Finance Minister’s budget proposals, but the main worry is regarding the implementation of many of these proposals and whether the allocations for various sectors which were announced in the budget will actually be used for the intended purposes.