This Article is From Aug 29, 2020

Government Asks States To Borrow Rs 2.35 Lakh Crore To Meet Tax Shortfall

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she had asked her counterparts at state level to borrow up to Rs 2.35 lakh crore from the market to help close the fiscal gap.

Government Asks States To Borrow Rs 2.35 Lakh Crore To Meet Tax Shortfall

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the states had asked for a week to consider the proposal

New Delhi:

The government on Thursday asked state administrations to raise $32 billion in loans, as part of a proposal to cover a shortfall in fiscal receipts that could see a surcharge on the country's luxury goods tax extended beyond 2022. The surcharge on luxury goods such as cars and tobacco products is part of the national goods and services tax (GST), introduced in 2017 to incorporate state-level taxes and whose receipts fell more than 40 per cent year-on-year in the three months to June due to economic fallout from a coronavirus lockdown.

Under that 2017 agreement, the states were mandated to increase their share of fiscal receipts by 14 per cent per year, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to compensate states for five years if they failed to achieve that target.

The target has been missed, but receipts from the luxury tax surcharge that the government has used to compensate the states are also down, having dropped nearly 42 per cent to Rs 13,270 crore in the June quarter.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she had asked her counterparts at state level during an online meeting to borrow up to Rs 2.35 lakh crore ($31.8 billion) from the market to help close the fiscal gap.

The states had asked for a week to consider the proposal, she told reporters.

Opposition-governed states said central government should do the borrowing.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, revenue secretary at the finance ministry, said the states' tax shortfall in the fiscal year that began in April was estimated at Rs 3 lakh crore.

He said the proposed loans could be repaid by extending the luxury tax surcharge beyond its planned expiry date of 2022.

Mr Pandey also said the central government could support the states to raise up to Rs 97,000 crore in loans from the central bank at a preferential rate.

Opposing Ms Sitharaman's plan, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal said it would hit the state's receipts after 2022 as it would have to repay the loans from future tax collections.