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Tool for simpler tax collection

Calcutta, July 24: The state government will start an integrated financial management system in association with the Asian Development Bank, Amit Mitra said today.

At a business chamber meeting, the finance minister said: “This is part of the state government’s e-governance initiative to bring in transparency, quicker delivery of services and provide a greater ease of doing business in the state.”

According to Mitra, an ADB study in 2004-05 had found that the tax system in Bengal was inefficient as the state exchequer was losing 45 to 50 per cent in collection because of non-compliance.

After coming to power, the Trinamul-led government had opted for e-governance instead of increasing existing tax rates or slapping new taxes to replenish the empty coffers.

“As a result, compliance has gone up. In the preceding year of our coming to power, the government had collected Rs 21,000 crore in tax. It increased to Rs 25,000 crore in 2011-12. In the first two months of the current financial year, our tax collection has gone up by 30.39 per cent. This is without taking into account the entry tax. In April and May, the entry tax collection was Rs 105 crore,” Mitra said.

From April, Bengal has been collecting entry tax at the rate of 1 per cent of the input cost of goods brought to the state. “The money collected through entry tax will accrue to a special fund for the use of creating commercial infrastructure, such as marketing complex,” the minister said.

The government aims to collect Rs 31,000 crore in taxes this financial year.

“However, we have to spend Rs 27,500 crore this year towards payments of interest and principal on over Rs 2 lakh crore borrowings made by the previous government. We have sought a moratorium on interest payment for three years. The central government had given Punjab in 1984-85 a moratorium for nine years and then the entire loan was also written off. Why can’t it give us a moratorium for three years?” Mitra said.

The state government is trying to prevent embezzlement by implementing e-governance wherever possible.

“The entire finance department will have an electronic file-tracking system in place soon. We’re also going to implement e-stamping for registration of properties. This will do away with all kinds of wrongdoings and forgery pertaining to stamp papers,” the minister said.

The government will implement the national land record modernisation programme that involves computerisation and updating of of land records and strengthening of the revenue administration.