| Ibobi Singh: Promises to keep |
Imphal, Feb. 20: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today presented a tax-free budget estimate of Rs 4,142.41 crore with a closing deficit of Rs 46.05 crore for 2008-09 and a promise that the state’s fiscal position would improve next year.
Presenting the budget estimates, Ibobi Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, said of the total estimate, Rs 2,301.20 crore had been fixed under non-plan, Rs 1,660 crore under state plan and Rs 181.21 crore under centrally-sponsored schemes, central plan schemes and North Eastern Council schemes.
The chief minister said the state plan would be financed to the extent of 89.67 per cent by central plan assistance and special plan assistance. Normal central assistance was fixed at Rs 560.60 crore, which was 10 per cent higher than last year, and the special plan was fixed at Rs 550 crore.
He did not propose any new tax.
Ibobi Singh proposed to reduce the entertainment tax on cinema from Rs 100 per show to Rs 10 per show. “This has been a long-pending demand of the Cine Exhibitors Association. I am sure this will help the industry and cinegoers.”
The step is expected to boost the Manipuri film industry. All cinema halls and video parlous in the state are screening only Manipuri video films after a militant group banned Hindi films more than a decade ago. Ibobi Singh said the government was considering bringing video parlours and cable operators within the tax net.
The budget laid focus on collecting more power revenue and streamlining financial administration.
Ibobi Singh said the government was awaiting the President’s approval on the Indian Electricity (Manipur Amendment) Act, 2006, which provides for penal action on power theft, and setting up of police stations empowered to deal with power theft.
He said measures taken for financial discipline had yielded dividends. The state opened the fiscal 2007-08 with a closing deficit of Rs 310.75 crore. This was reversed and the revised estimates for the year showed a closing deficit of Rs 203.47 crore. To streamline the financial administration, the government will computerise 11 treasury and five sub-treasury offices in a phased manner.