Sell leased out land to raise revenue, says Montek report - ECAS Punjab

Sell leased out land to raise revenue, says Montek report

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Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16

A group of experts led by eminent economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia has recommended that the Punjab Government sell off its leased out land and parcels of land in major cities to immediately enhance the state's revenue in the short run.

The group, entrusted by the Capt Amarinder Singh government to suggest a post-Covid economic strategy, has recommended that Punjab needed to immediately cut down its expenditure, including by deferring salaries and pending dearness allowance and stopping all recruitment in the police. It said the government must enhance its income. It said the state government faced a 25 per cent shortfall in the budgeted revenue because of the lockdown.

The report said while the state government should join other states to pressurise the Centre to release the promised compensation for goods and services tax, it should immediately sell off its leased out properties. "An inventory of parcels of land in Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Mohali and Amritsar be made for selling it off. Karnataka has initiated this measure and hopes to get Rs 15,000 crore this year itself," said the first report of the group.

Other recommendations are to increase the revenue, including revising the ceiling of professional tax from present Rs 2,500 to Rs 20,000; upward revision of excise duty on the sale of Indian-made foreign liquor, beer and wine and increasing their rates for two years; and revising fee and royalties collected through mining of minor minerals (sand and gravel). All these suggestions can be a political hot potato for the government, considering the "influence" of the liquor and mining lobbies.

The report accepted that it was "difficult to implement" the power sector reforms (free power to farmers), but the state could easily accept the three other conditions laid by the Government of India for availing an additional borrowing limit of two per cent of the GSDP. These include: One nation, one ration card, improving the ease of doing business and urban local bodies reforms, mainly increasing the property tax.

Key suggestions

  • Sell land in major cities for residential, commercial and industrial plots.
  • Increase excise duty on sale of IMFL, wine and beer.
  • Raise professional tax from Rs 2,500 to Rs 20,000.

Cutting costs

  • Defer payment of salaries to employees, as done by other states.
  • No increase in pay scales of government employees.
  • Stop recruitment in police.

from The Tribune

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