Jamshedpur, June 13: Jharkhand, endowed with more mineral deposits and industries than Bihar, has fallen behind the backward mother state in revenue collection.
The commercial taxes department of the Rabri Devi government collected over Rs 1,800 crore revenue in the last financial year, compared with Jharkhand’s Rs 1,450 crore. The target was a little over Rs 1,700 crore.
“The situation has to be improved. The commercial department is the backbone of the state as far as mopping up of revenue is concerned,” chief minister Arjun Munda said today, after inaugurating a complex for the department’s Jamshedpur division. “If a state like Bihar could garner more revenue than us, there is no reason why we should lag behind,” he said.
The fiscal situation in the state is not at all happy, Munda said. “Of the total budget of nearly Rs 7,500 crore-8,000 crore, we are spending about Rs 5,000 crore towards payment of wages. But we need funds for development of basic infrastructure and amenities to develop the state.”
The chief minister urged department officials to improve “work culture” to increase revenue collection. “We have to make this department more (customer) friendly so that the tax-payers willingly come forward to pay taxes,” he said.
Emphasising the need for a system that helps assess taxes quickly, Munda said: “We have to make a system where tax-payers do not shy away from paying taxes.”
He assured the department his government’s help to modernise processes.
Drawing a link between low revenues and backwardness, Munda highlighted the poor literacy rate of the state, especially in the villages. “The male and female literacy in rural areas are 35 and 15 per cent. And the overall literacy in the state is just 54 per cent,” he said.
Acknowledging the poor revenue collection last fiscal, commercial taxes minister Ramjee Lal Sharda explained the reasons. The state, he said, allowed sales-tax exemption on various products such as medicines, potatoes, onions and certain varieties of pulses. The problem was compounded by the lack of adequate staff in the department.
“Moreover, except for eight products, we have waived entry tax on other items of raw materials.”
These things have affected our mobilisation of revenue. We are presently studying whether exemption of entry tax on certain items of raw materials should be withdrawn or not,” Sharda said.
The department, the minister said, has set a target of 20 per cent higher collection of commercial tax than that of the last fiscal. “We are planning out things to achieve our target at all costs,” he said.