The West Bengal state budget proposed a slew of exemptions to encourage industries with an eye on creating employment in the state.
Real estate and tea were in focus in the budget for 2022-2023 presented in the Assembly on Friday by newly appointed finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya. The budget proposal also included sops for electric and CNG vehicles to reduce carbon footprint going forward.
For real estate, a labour-intensive sector, the budget proposed to extend the 2 per cent rebate on stamp duty and 10 per cent rebate on circle rate of land/property for another six months up to September 30, 2022. The state government had allowed the exemption on stamp duty and rebate on circle rate in the financial year 2021-22 in a bid to give relief to home buyers.
Joining the post-budget press conference virtually, Amit Mitra, principal chief advisor to West Bengal Chief Minister, said that the 2 per cent stamp duty rebate had resulted in a 25 per cent increase in revenue collection. He also said that two million deeds had been registered.
Among the other tax proposals, the government has proposed to exempt payment of Rural Employment Cess (RE) under the West Bengal Rural Employment and Production Act 1976 and Education Cess under the West Bengal Primary Education Act 1973 for the next FY2022-23 to give relief to the tea industry.
For tea gardens, especially small gardens, which are going through financial stress, the government proposed to waive the Agricultural Income Tax for 2022-2023.
Mitra said, it was decided to stimulate certain sectors and to give social security in other sectors. The real estate sector and tea gardens apart from MSMEs were employment-intensive sectors, he pointed out.
Moreover, the state budget proposed incentives to encourage investment in battery-operated two-wheeler and four-wheeler electric vehicles. It proposes to exempt registration fees and road tax for the next two years from FY2022-2023. Further, to incentivize reduction in carbon footprint and to reduce dependence on petrol/diesel, the government announced exemption in registration fee and road tax on all categories of CNG vehicles for the next two years from FY2022-23.
However, the government has projected own tax revenue of Rs 79,346 crore for 2022-23, and Mitra said, it would be met. The revised estimate for state tax revenue 2021-2022 was Rs 73,904 crore.
Mitra also said that West Bengal had been following a demand stimulation unlike the Centre’s supply side model. The demand stimulating model entailed giving cash in the hands of people through various social sector schemes.
West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, said that the expenditure in the social service sector was projected to increase to Rs 73,441 crore in 2022-2023 from Rs 6,846 crore in 2010-2011.
Presenting the budget, Bhattacharya said that in 2020-21, while the national economy dipped by negative 7.25 per cent, Bengal was the torch bearer with positive growth of 1.06 per cent.
“In the current financial year, that is 2021-22(1st AE), West Bengal, all over again has managed to come to the fore. While the Indian economy is expected to record a positive growth of 9.18 per cent, mainly on account of the low base of the previous financial year, the West Bengal economy is expected to grow at a faster rate of 12.82 per cent,” she said.
Bhattacharya tabled a Rs 3.21 trillion budget.