No fresh taxes, please: Goa trade body
By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, Panaji, March 16 : Hassled by increasing central and state taxes and staring at a mining ban-propelled recession in the near future, Goa's trade and industry captains have urged a status quo on the tax regimen for 2013-14 when the budget is presented on Monday.
In a pre-budget memorandum submitted to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) president Manguirish Pai Raikar has said that industry did not seek any tax cuts - but no fresh taxes either.
"The current ban on mining is having a huge socio-economic impact on the state. Industry stands by the government's efforts to help the large number of people affected by the ban to tide over the crisis," Raikar said in his memorandum.
"Having regard to the current situation, the Chamber has decided not to make any request for reduction in any of the existing taxes or rates," he further said.
Requesting that no new taxes be levied and that the rate of current taxes be not increased, Raikar said that industry in Goa was going through a rough time and was already burdened with high incidence of central and state taxes.
The state has lost Rs.800 crore since the Supreme Court imposed the mining ban Oct 6, 2012. The ban came after it was presented the report of the Justice M.B. Shah commission which stated that the exchequer had lost Rs.35,000 crore due to illegal mining. On a plea from the Goa government, the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry by its empowered committee, which has now submitted its report. The court will hear the matter March 22.
The Chamber has also requested the government to enforce and recover proceeds of illegally extracted iron ore, which would enrich the government's coffers to an extent, and order a complete stoppage on illegal mining whenever the ban is lifted.
The Chamber has also requested Parrikar to plug revenue leakages, something the beleaguered chief minister has promised to make a priority.
"There was free loot going on in the previous governments in most departments, but there are many areas where money can be recovered from now. My focus will be on plugging these leakages," Parrikar had said.
As far as tourism is concerned, the memorandum has urged the Goa government to move the focus away from the crowded coastal belt and shift to the hinterland by developing river cruises and developing the backwaters.
"The government should have a clear tourism policy which will even spread the benefits of tourism across the state and not just in the coastal belt," Raikar said.
He further said that 50 percent of Goa's service sector was directly dependent on tourism and that other avenues like trading, logistics, education and healthcare should be developed to ensure that people working in the sector could diversify, instead of being dependent on tourism alone.
"Lack of vision and lack of political will have led to loss of great opportunities leading to lopsided growth in this sector," Raikar said.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)