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Hint of diesel VAT rollback
March, 03rd 2010

People of the state can look forward to some relief on petroleum products, particularly diesel, from the state budget that will be presented on March 5.

Deputy chief minister and finance minister Raghubar Das today said the state government was trying to offload the burden of the hike in value added tax (VAT) on diesel and also the Centres anti-people decision to hike prices of both petrol and diesel.

Since the Assembly is in session and we have to present the annual budget, it is not proper to quantify the relief. But people should definitely expect some good news on March 5, Das maintained.

However, he said the state government would take a decision keeping in mind the resources of the state.

We want to give some relief to the people. But at the same time, we do not want lose much of our resources as we have to take care of the 54 per cent of the states population living below the poverty line, he said.

Das, the BJP face in the Shibu Soren government, has been under pressure, particularly from his partymen, to roll back the VAT on diesel, which he hiked to 20 per cent from 14.5 per cent on February 10. The state government expected an additional Rs 150 crore in revenue from the VAT hike.

The move embarrassed the BJP spearheading a campaign at the national level against the Congress-led Central government for the skyrocketing prices.

Petroleum dealers, bus and truck owners have also been on the warpath following the state decision to raise VAT.

Jharkhands diesel VAT is the highest among all the eastern states. While Bengal levies VAT at the rate of 17 per cent on diesel, in Orissa it is 18 per cent and in Bihar, it is 18.36 per cent.

The Jharkhand Petroleum Dealers Association has also called an emergent executive meeting on March 4 to chalk out its future course of action if the state government did not roll back VAT rates.

The finance minister said the states budget will reflect the state governments resolve to pursue a balanced growth giving equal impetus to industries, agriculture, services sector and trade.

The plan size (funds for development) is supposed to be around Rs 8,600 crore, Rs 400 crore more than that of the last year, he said.

Das added that he did not believe much in juggling numbers. The Economic Survey presented in the House has shown remarkable growth of 205 per cent in the industrial sector between 2001-02 and 2008-09. But it has made no difference to the poor people. So, our main focus will be how to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, the finance minister said.

The deputy chief minister said he would be taking measures to increase the purchasing power of the people and projected the per capita income of citizens would double in the next five years.

The finance minister admitted that there has been huge leakage of revenue as a result of which the state was struggling to manage its resources.

We have not been able to take much of measures so far, but will definitely undertake some tough measures to plug the revenue leakage in April, he said.

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