West Bengal allocates funds for people affected by demonetisation in Budget

Amit Mitra presenting West Bengal Budget
The West Bengal government Friday allocated funds for people affected by demonetisation and made adjustment to the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in its 2017-18 Budget, which aimed at a tax revenue rise of 14 per cent over the revised estimates of 2016-17.

The Budget was presented by state Finance Minister Amit Mitra as the Opposition Left Front, Congress and BJP members boycotted the proceedings protesting the alleged assault of the Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan on Wednesday.

Mitra in his 2017-18 estimates, targeted to collect revenue of Rs 55,786.74 crore against the revised FY17 estimates of Rs 48,926.69 crore and projected the growth rate of the state's economy at 9.2 per cent.

The minister, however, did not explain how the government planned to increase the tax revenue.

The plan outlay for the year has been proposed at Rs 64,733 crore and the government continued all the social sector schemes for the year despite curtailment of central funds.

Mitra in his speech said to give relief to small businesses affected by demonetisation, the threshold turnover limit has been increased to 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh for VAT.

GST proposes to keep the tax threshold limit for taxation at Rs 20 lakh, he said.

An allocation of of Rs 250 crore was also made towards onetime assistance to 50,000 skilled workers who were forced to return home on account of demonetisation fallout.

The assistance will be Rs 50,000 and district magistrates are working to prepare a list of the beneficiaries, according to Mitra.

A special fund of Rs 100 crore has also been proposed to help farmers tide over the crisis arising out of note recall.

A major announcement was in the area of stamp duty. It

proposed rationalisation of stamp duty to two per cent from the existing rate of five to seven per cent.

However, Mitra said in order to get the benefit of the reduced rate, the registration has to be done within four years from the date of agreement on payment of balance stamp duty.

The Budget proposed 20 per cent reduction in the registration fee of property if done within a year of completion of construction.

Mitra also reduced the stamp duty on financial papers and stock exchange transactions.

The Budget exempted from tax net eco-friendly items like bio-diesel, bio-mass briquettes, solar water heater, plates and cups made of Sal leaf, terracotta bricks, kerosene stove, hair band and hair clip.

The Budget also provided for an increase in the monthly honorarium of Rs 500 to ICDS and Asha workers of the state.

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