Odisha Finance Minister Sashibhushan Behera raised various issues in Pre-budget consultation meeting at New Delhi

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Finance Minister Shashibhushan Behera has raised the following issues/demands in Pre-budget consultation meeting held at New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley today. Sri Behera raised all these matters, keeping in view the interest and welfare of the state.

* Change in sharing pattern of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to 90:10 As per recommendations of 14th Finance Commission the sharing pattern of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) should be changed from 75:25 to 90:10 once GST is in place. As the GST has been implemented from 1st July, 2017, the sharing pattern may be changed to 90:10 between Centre and State; and Government of India should release the Central Share accordingly. * Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for the purpose of providing guarantees in respect of borrowers in the farm sector: Availability of Bank credit without collateral and third party guarantees would go a long way in providing access to long term credit for the farmers for capital investment as well as working capital to set up enterprises in the agriculture and allied sectors. Credit Guarantee Fund for loans for agriculture & allied sectors can serve as a credit enhancement mechanism for the perspective borrowers in the farm sector. Government of India should set up a separate credit guarantee trust fund preferably under NABARD to facilitate smooth flow of long term credit to the prospective borrowers in the farm sector. * Review of decisions of Government of India for monthly release of tax devolution to States on 15th of every month instead of the 1st working day of every month: Government of India has recently changed the monthly release date of tax devolution to States to 15th of every month instead of the 1st working day of the month. This decision will adversely affect the finances of the States as a major proportion of expenditure on account of salary and pension is incurred in the 1st week of the month. Further, it has been proposed by the Ministry of Finance that from the financial year 2018•19, the share of Corporation Tax and Income Tax will be released in four quarterly instalments replacing the current practice of monthly releases. Government of India may review these decisions in the interest of better fiscal management of the States and continue the existing practice. * Advance indication on Central Assistance for Centrally Sponsored Schemes(CSS) and release of funds as per commitment There should be an advance indication about the annual allocation of Central Assistance for each State at the time of budget formulation so that the States would be able to prepare their budgets on a realistic basis. The release of funds must also match the allocation as inadequate flow of funds in the schemes such as National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Scholarship for SC & ST students, Integrated Child Development Programme (ICDS), Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) etc. have affected implementation of the schemes.

* Exemption of Income Tax on the interest income of District Mineral Foundations from Bank Deposits. In Odisha, DMF Trust Board have been constituted in all the 30 Districts. The Income Tax Authorities have deducted tax from one of the DMF Trust accounts and also issued notices to others on the interest income of the Trusts. The State Government has requested Government of India on several occasions to exempt interest earnings of DMF Trust Board from Income Tax. Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance and Central Board of Direct Taxes may issue suitable notification with regard to exemption of DMF Trusts from Income Tax as the DMF Trusts funds are being utilized towards the direct benefit of the persons living in and for development of the areas affected by mining operations. * Financial inclusion in the State: Financial inclusion in Odisha is constrained by lack of brick and mortar bank branches and lack of connectivity in the State. Odisha is a connectivity deficit State with overall tele-density of about 83 per cent and rural tele-density of about 50 per cent. Instruction may be issued from the Ministry of Finance, Government of India to all Banks to open bank branches in identified unbanked GPs. The payment banks licensed by Reserve Bank of India may also be mandated to open branches in some of the un-banked GPs. * Proposals on Railways for Odisha in 2018-19 Odisha generates annual revenue of about Rs.17,000 crore for Indian Railways. But yet the rail density (15.0) in the State is much lower compared to /he national average (19.0) and that of the adjoining States (West Bengal: 43.4 and Jharkhand: 24.3). Hence, there is urgent need for expanding Rail network in the State to bring the rail density to the level of the adjoining States. Hence, adequate provision should be made in the forthcoming Budget, 2018-19 for railway infrastructure in Odisha for the on-going projects, sanctioning of new line, station modernisation etc. * Revision of Royalty on Coal The royalty on Coal was last revised by Government of India in April 2012. As per norm, the rate of royalty on Coal should be revised every 3 years, which is due for revision in April, 2015. Hence, Government of India should revise the royalty on Coal immediately without further delay.Besides the above issues Sri Behera also wanted cess and surcharge of the Customs duty and Direct Taxes should be gradually eliminated, Pre-payment of National Small Saving Fund loan, establishment of Eastern Industrial Corrider between Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata through Odisha, provision of sufficient funds for development and maintenance of Natioanal Highway,  estimation of Central Share of Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme(AIBP) projects at realistic level. Union Ministers of State, Finance, Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla and Shri P. Radhakrishnan, Finance Ministers of States & Union Territories including some Chief Ministers, Union Finance Secretary, Secretary(Expenditure), Secretary(Economic Affairs) and other senior Officers from the Ministry of Finance and States were present in this Pre-budget consultation meeting.

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