Petrol, beer, essential services to cost more in Goa

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Wednesday presented a surplus budget, which saw a slew of proposed taxes on petrol, liquor and an across-the-board increase in taxes for essential services.

Speaking to reporters after presenting his first budget, Parsekar - who also holds the finance portfolio - said the budget focused on employment generation for the youth and infrastructure creation in the state.

The Opposition called the budget "anti-poor", while the Goa wing of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) offered mixed reactions.

"It is an unprecedented revenue surplus of Rs.408.18 crore, which is a historic achievement for the state's finances," Parsekar said.

The total size of the budget for the forthcoming financial year (2015-16) has increased by 26.48 percent to Rs.13,331.44 crore, compared to 2014-15.

The budget proposes a hike in VAT on petrol from 10 percent to 15 percent, which would peg the price of the fuel to about Rs.58 per litre.

"Petrol in Goa is still cheap compared to other states. Despite the hike in VAT, I want to assure the people that we will not allow the cost of petrol to go above Rs.60," Parsekar said.

He said the state government expects to mop up Rs.100 crore from the tax increase.

The budget also proposes a steep hike in licence fee for liquor stores and increased excise fee to the tune of Rs.20 per bulk litre on cheap Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) to Rs.3,025 per bulk litre on premium liquor.

Beer manufactured in Goa, a state known for cheap alcohol as well as for beach tourism, will also cost more with excise fee on a bulk litre of beer hiked from Rs.17 to Rs.30.

Parsekar said the budget focused on job creation and skill development and was inspired by the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swami Vivekananda.

"We have laid a lot of stress on job creation and infrastructure by proposing skill development programmes for the youth as well as making avenues for job creation," he said.

"My government is, in fact, looking forward to synergise our efforts with the 'Make in India' campaign in a big way through our investor-friendly policies," Parsekar said.

An investment policy drawn up by the state government envisaged creation of 50,000 jobs over the next five years and investment of Rs.25,000 crore in Goa in the same duration.

Criticising the budget, Leader of Opposition Pratapsingh Rane said it was against the interest of those in Goa who were poor or from low income groups.

"It is an anti-poor budget. The taxation is indiscriminate and exorbitant," he said.

CII Goa council chairman Parag Joshi said the industry was happy with the thrust on infrastructure, ease of business, skill development etc., but added that several key issues had not been reflected in the budget.

"We are disappointed with the lack of mention of land resources which have been locked in non functional SEZ, lack of mention of modernisation or upgradation of existing industrial estates," Joshi said.

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