Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 24:

With Odisha’s  revenue earnings taking a dip in the current fiscal, Finance Minister Pradip Amat ahead of the 2017-18 annual state budget, today huddled together with former Finance Ministers, economists, industrialists, officials of the RBI and Nabard and other stakeholders to deliberate on how to boost the state’s income.

People privy to the deliberations at the meeting have revealed that this year’s budget could be of about Rs 1lakh crore.

Odisha which has already decided to implement the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, it’s estimated that the state exchequer will have to bear an additional burden of about Rs 5,000 crore.

The state government is likely to give priority to the social sector, rural infrastructure, irrigation, agriculture, health and education which would require additional funds mobilization.

Participants at the meeting suggested for imposing professional tax on doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants and other professionals to augment the state’s earnings.

Finance Minister Pradip Amat said this year both plan and non-plan sectors will be combined in line with the Union budget.

“In the current budget both plan and non-plan will be combined and emphasis will be laid on all aspects. This year Union budget is being tabled ahead of schedule; we will place our budget after that. We will take demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST) into account while preparing the state budget,” informed Finance Minister Pradip Amat after the meeting.

Former Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai who was a participant at the meeting suggested that the state government should make efforts to earn more revenue in the coming four months.

“The more the revenue earning, the bigger will be the size of the budget. We all expect the government to place a bigger budget. Taking into consideration the position of the revenue earnings, it is little less as compared to what was earned from own tax and non-tax sources in the last year. The state government should make all out efforts to collect more revenue in these four months. If they can complete auctioning of mining blocks they can also earn more revenue from that. If they can abrogate the agreement with IOCL and collect tax from them, then resources of the state government can increase. We have suggested the government on these counts,” stated former Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai in his comments on the deliberations at the meeting.

A former bureaucrat Bibek Patnaik who had participated in the deliberations suggested that the government should emphasis on agro-industry and agriculture to prevent migration of people from rural areas to urban areas.

“In my opinion, more stress should be laid on agro-industries and agriculture, the reason being there is the need for creation of employment opportunities in rural areas. With employment opportunities in rural areas, the pressure on urban areas shall decrease. This will stop migration from rural areas to urban areas. If this is not done well in time a situation may so arise when cities won’t be in a position to bear the brunt,” said former bureaucrat Bibek Patnaik.