How badly will Covid-19 affect the state’s economy and GST collection? What is your growth rate estimate for this fiscal year?
Our total GST collections and VAT receipts for August FY20 stood at Rs 5,126 crore. It rose 4% to Rs 5,329 crore in August FY21. Similarly, our receipts for various items for GST and VAT have also seen an increase this August against the year-ago period. There is no doubt that economic activity has bounced back; our receipts prove this. If the trend continues in the coming months, we should be able to end the year on a positive note, with growth, though April and June saw negative growth.
On the GST compensation issue, many states have demanded that the Centre must borrow from the market and transfer the fund to states. What are your views on this proposal?
The GST compensation issue is primarily related to the GST Council and each state is an equal partner in it. The UP government will welcome whatever decision is taken by the council, after discussion, as long as it is in favour of the nation.
So how do you plan to make up for the revenue loss, given that most Indian states are dealing with huge fiscal constraints because of the pandemic?
Economic activities have to go hand in hand with Covid-control measures. We go by the slogan, jaan bhi, jahaan bhi, given by the PM. The Uttar Pradesh government has been taking stringent measures to improve its fiscal position. The results of such actions are already getting reflected in our tax collection numbers.
Our August tax collection numbers are exemplary. In 2019-20, the total revenue receipts for August were Rs 8,833 crore. It was Rs 9,374 crore in August FY21, which is a rise of almost 6%. For geological and mining activities, a major item under non-tax revenue, the collection in August FY20 stood at Rs 109.56 crore versus Rs 171.53 crore for August FY21,an increase of more than 56%.
Has the state government taken some austerity measures to cut costs?
To control our fiscal expenses in view of the pandemic, the state government has been taking a slew of austerity measures from time to time. My ministers and I have taken a 30% cut in salaries and allowances. Similar cuts have also been made in the salaries and allowances of all MLAs and MLCs. Disbursal to the MLA fund has been deferred for 2020-21.
The UP government has also put on hold for one year six allowances payable to officers and employees in the current financial year. Dearness allowance too has been frozen till June 2021. Our finance department has been issuing several advisories from time to time, asking various departments to stop unnecessary and avoidable expenses. In May 2020, to bring in austerity measures, the finance department issued clear instructions to stop the purchase of new vehicles. New works that were planned have also been stopped or deferred