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VAT relief for aviation sector

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 27: The state cabinet today gave its nod to the reduction of value added tax (VAT) on the aviation turbine fuel (ATF) from the current 20 per cent to 5 per cent to ensure growth of aviation sector.

The move is expected to woo airlines operators to start international flights from Biju Patnaik International Airport.

Chief secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra said: “Biju Patnaik International Airport has become ready to handle international flights. If VAT on aviation fuel is reduced, it would attract commercial airlines to operate international flights from Bhubaneswar.”

The reduction of VAT on the ATF will not only boost air connectivity, but also make the city airport an international hub for re-fuelling. It may also add to the development of a cargo terminal. The Telegraph carried several reports on ATF in the past.

Airport director Sharad Kumar said: “The decision will boost the air connectivity as Indigo has already shown interest to add four more flights to the city. They will connect Bangalore, Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai. Similarly, Spicejet and GoAir are also keen to add the city as their destination shortly.”

With the slashing of VAT on the ATF, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is also ready to waive night parking fees for flights. This will ensure that more morning flights from the city will be available, so that people can start from city as early as 7.30am.

At present, the state gets annual revenue of Rs 27 crore. “It is not the question of how much revenue we lose if waive the VAT on the aviation fuel. If we get more international flights, we can earn more revenue from tourism,” Mohapatra said.

The chief secretary met various airlines operators in New Delhi yesterday to connect Bhubaneswar with south and south-east Asia and the middle east. Fly Dubai and Air Arabia have also expressed their interest to start international operations.

The state government also decided to launch “Sabuja Odisha” (green Odisha) to increase green cover in the state. Around 44.52 crore seedlings will be planted under the scheme to raise the green cover.

The cabinet also decided to launch a Rs 1,000crore scheme to provide water through canals to farmers at the tail end of the channel.

The chief secretary said: “We have earmarked Rs 438.20 crore to continue the plantation programme to have nearly 44 crore seedlings within a span of four years. Out of this seedlings, 15.60 crore seedlings will be distributed to the public.”

Govt to recruit docs, medical officers

The state government has sought to speed up the recruitment process for medical officers and doctors in periphery cadres through introduction of an entrance test. Personal interviews, which were in practice till now and carried 10 per cent weightage, shall be discontinued.

The cabinet today approved these amendments to the Odisha Medical and Health Service Rule, which include 70 per cent weightage on marks secured in entrance test and 30 per cent on academic career. This would ensure selection of meritorious and quality candidates for appointment to medical and health services cadre, said an official.

“Selection will now be held based on performances in the written test and marks secured in Class X, Plus Two and MBBS or postgraduate levels. Once it receives the governor’s assent, we will notify the vacancies and the Odisha Public Service Commission would conduct the recruitment procedure,” said health secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra.

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