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Stamp duty to be raised

Calcutta, Oct. 7: The cash-starved Bengal government has decided to increase by two percentage points the stamp duty on purchase of property in all corporation, municipal and notified areas.

Officials said an Ordinance would be promulgated shortly to formalise the proposal.

However, those living in panchayat areas will not be affected. The move is being seen as an attempt not to antagonise the rural electorate before the panchayat elections, slated for early next year.

Widening the sweep of its austerity measures, the government also announced a moratorium on construction of buildings to house its offices.

“There are a lot of buildings in Salt Lake. We have two other office complexes on Camac Street and in Jessop Buildings. However, we must complete all on-going projects,” chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said.

The officials said the proposal to increase stamp duty was put forward by finance minister Asim Dasgupta some time ago and the chief minister has given his nod. The issue is on the agenda of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.

The government had increased the stamp duty by one percentage point, making it six per cent of the value of the newly purchased property, while placing this year’s budget six months ago. After the impending Ordinance, a person will have to pay a stamp duty of eight per cent.

The chief minister, who held a string of meetings with all departmental secretaries and earlier with district magistrates and superintendents of police, stressed the need for imposing restriction on unplanned expenditure. No snacks were served to those who attended – in line with the first tranche of austerity guidelines issued last week.

“Departmental secretaries and district magistrates will have to take a leading role to impose restrictions on unnecessary expenditure. I have other preoccupations as chief minister,” Bhattacharjee told reporters after the meetings.

Asked whether ministers would also come under the austerity drive, the chief minister said he would first talk to those belonging to his party and then discuss the matter at a meeting of the Cabinet core committee.

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