Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 24:
With revenue collection sliding downwards and the high earning mining sector badly hit, top managers of Odisha government are at their wits end over funding the budget.
Even though two pre-budget brainstorming sessions have been held to figure a way out, a concrete picture over funding pattern is yet to emerge.
While most economists agree that the overall budget outlay of the state might cross Rs 1 lakh crore this year, the state government is in a tight spot as its cash cow Mines department has been unable to generate the targeted revenue in the past three years and is unlikely to do any better this time.
Even though the department was supposed rake in Rs 6626 Crore this financial year, it managed to generate Rs 3,869 crore till December. Bringing in another Rs 2757 crore in the last quarter is unlikely. Chances of the department delivering any better next financial year doesn’t look very promising given the free fall of mineral prices in international market.
“The mineral prices have been hit in the international market. Materials that sold for Rs 4000 last year are selling for Rs 1800 this year. This affects the royalty collection proportionately,” Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick said trying to explain the drop in revenue.
The government, in a bid to bridge the gap, is counting on the Excise department that registered a 68 percent growth in revenue collection till December this year as compared to last year. The revenues of the department, however, are too little to matter much.
“We had increased excise duties and I am hopeful that our department will be able to achieve or get very close to its revenue collection target of Rs 2500 crore for this year. The government has various ways to fund the budget and it is considering all options. We are not the only way out,” said Excise Minister Damodar Rout.
“The government makes up to 25 percent of its taxes from petroleum sector. If it stands to lose there, I am sure it would have to brave a storm. It will have to go for further borrowing to make up for the difference,” opined senior journalist Dillip Satapathy of Business Standard.