Cess on petrol, diesel, telecom services proposed to fund Swachh Bharat initiatives
27-01-2016 | Swachh Bharat, Narendra Modi, Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, New Delhi, India, Swachh Bharat MissionAuthor :-
NEW DELHI: You could soon be paying more for the Narendra Modi government's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, with further levies being considered to fund the cleanliness programme. The mission that was launched on October 2, 2014, envisages an investment of nearly Rs 2.23 lakh crore by October 2019. The measures under consideration include a 0.5% cess on petrol, diesel and telecom services, a 1% cess on accumulated waste produced by mineral generation plants and a 0.5 percentage point increase in service tax. The government imposed a 0.5% Swachh Bharat cess on taxable services from November 15. The government is also contemplating long-term, tax-free Swachh Bharat bonds to raise funds, a senior official told ET.
The sub-group of chief ministers on Swachh Bharat had said that the Centre and states should jointly carry forward the national programme. "The sharing pattern of funds for this programme between the Centre and states may be in the ratio of 75:25, while for hilly states it may be kept at 90:10," it had said, with the larger proportion to be paid by the Centre. It has also recommended that states issue Swachh Bharat bonds, which could be exempted from tax by the Centre.
The Swachh Bharat Mission includes building household toilets, community and public toilets and scientific waste management. The estimated cost of the event is Rs 2.23 lakh crore with expenditure in rural areas pegged at Rs 1.34 lakh crore and in urban areas at Rs 62,010 crore. Apart from this, spending on school toilets is put at Rs 2,528 crore, anganwadi toilets at Rs 768 crore and individual toilets under the rural employment programme at Rs 24,000 crore.
A cess is a bad idea, and the government should abandon any such plan that puts an extra burden on citizens. Successive finance commissions have discouraged the Centre from levying cesses and surcharges. The proceeds are not shared with the states, though the Constitution entrusts the tasks of public health and sanitation to state governments. To finance the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government should quickly adopt GST that provides for set-offs for all taxes paid on inputs. Cesses and surcharges should be subsumed in GST.