Will GST face lift Manipur?
FOLLOWING up on its promise to transform Manipur into a thriving, developed state, the BJP-led coalition government has introduced hordes of schemes in its first 100 days in office in addition to keeping firm focus on providing efficient and transparent administration at all levels and as such there is no reason for chief minister N Biren to whine over the state’s poor financial position for streamlining the revenue collection mechanism is bound to have healthy impact to the local economy. Apart from advising the district administrators and officials of all departments to create awareness on the recently rolled out Goods and Services Tax (GST) so that whatever quantum of tax could be collected is accrued to the state’s exchequer, the chief minister need to constantly monitor activities of the tax collecting officials in order to facilitate overall progress of the state. As had been pointed out during a high level meeting on GST on Wednesday, Manipur could take full advantage of the Central government’s decision to continue with the 90:10 Centre-state funding pattern for the north eastern states and undertake numerous development projects in case there is healthy revenue generation. With the said fund pattern entailing only 10 per cent expenditure by these economically backward states for any project, focus should be on blemish-free collection from all taxable sources and ensure purposeful investment for infrastructure development to propel Manipur towards a new era of prosperity.
Though the power sector seems to be the only tangible source of revenue generation in the state at the juncture, a thorough revision of the existing revenue generation mechanism will certain expose the flaws, if any, in the system that had been posing as hurdles in the path of the state’s development. Prior to enforcement of GST, tax from all types of vehicles and goods used to be regularly collected at many check posts set up along the national and state highways in Manipur, which were manned by both government and private agencies, but there has been no official announcement of the quantum of revenue generated from such posts or whether the funds so collected actually find their way to the state’s coffer. On account of the new tax system under GST necessitating abolishment of all manually operated check posts, a process that would also ensure smooth passage of commercial vehicles, officials need to have thorough knowledge about the new tax regime and impart proper awareness to the common people, so that GST serves the purpose in the state. For long it has been a tradition at the beginning of every financial year in the state that the issue of low revenue of the government is discussed and mentioned in abundance but seldom followed up with any effective measures to improve the financial position. Thus, it is expected that with the formation of a new government in the state coupled with the rolling out of GST the much anticipated wish of the people to experience mega facelift of Manipur will be a reality.