Maharashtra FM rules out levying new taxes for drought-hit Marathwada

Mumbai: Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has ruled out any possibility of levying any new taxes in view of the drought conditions in Marathwada region.

The intention behind Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remark on "if need be government will raise loans", was to assure the farmers that the government stands behind them in the hour of crisis, he said.

"No new taxes will be levied in the drought-hit Marathwada region," he said at a media meet organised by Mumbai Press Club here yesterday.

Mungantiwar said that the government will have to take a review of all the irrigation projects implemented in Marathwada in the last four years.

"Raising additional loans is not bad idea as the state is well within its fiscal limits in relation to its gross state domestic produce," the minister said. He accused the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government of not following fiscal discipline.

Replying to queries over the cost escalation due to drought conditions, he said that the exact quantum of allocation required will only be known after the late monsoon rains this month.

Maintaining that the situation did not warrant immediate recourse to availing loan, Mungantiwar said that if it does not rain in September then the costs will rise. He said that the state government has begun review of old and existing schemes and that the government was not closing down all the schemes launched by the previous government.

"All the good schemes shall continue, but those which have been on paper or have no real public welfare shall be reviewed," he said.

"The government has made a norm that no purchases by the government departments shall be allowed after February 15 every year. Earlier, one saw last minute purchases from various departments prior to the end of fiscal year on March 31 which will not happen now," he said.

Commenting on the implementation of infrastructure projects, Mungantiwar said that henceforth priority will be given to implementation of existing on-going projects rather than announcing and implementing all the projects at one go.

To a query over creation of separate Vidarbha state, he said, "Only the state of Vidarbha remains to be created out of the 15 recommended by the State Reorganisation Commission.

"The issue need not be politicised. The smaller states so created should be self-sustaining. BJP does not have a majority in the legislative assembly to pass a resolution to this effect," Mungantiwar said.

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