Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday put the blame for all of the state’s problems on the door of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party government. Completing 100 days in office, Fadnavis said the 15-year-rule of the two parties had led to all sorts of current problems including the sorry state of finances, farmer suicides, an irrigation scam, pro-contractor contracts leading to high toll rates and policy and decision paralysis.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government which he leads, Fadnavis said, had already taken steps to change the state’s image, increase the flow of investments and ensure implementation of projects Fadnavis added the government proposes to spend Rs 34,500 crore in the next five years to develop agriculture and make 25,000 villages free of all scarcity, in its bid to curb farmer suicides. He told reporters the BJP had never promised a “toll-free” Maharashtra in the run-up to the Assembly elections in October last year.
“However, the government wants to achieve it in due course of time. A comprehensive toll policy is being formulated. One thing is clear – toll rates are exorbitant at several roads. The previous government had signed pro-contractor contracts without buy-back clause.”
He said though it would be impossible to scrap the toll system, the government was trying to find a legal solution
On the abolition of local body tax, as promised during the poll, Fadnavis declined to give any any specific timeline but said the government will spell out its strategy in the coming state budget, slated for March.
The BJP and Shiv Sena had assured of abolishing the LBT after assuming power. The LBT is imposed by 25 municipal corporations on the entry of goods into a local area for consumption, use or sale. The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation collects Rs 7,500 crore through octroi duty. The state government is contemplating imposing one-two per cent surcharge on value-added tax and scrap the LBT till the introduction of goods and services tax.
Fadnavis hoped the GST will help increase the collection of service tax and it will thereby make do the revenue loss of 26 municipal corporations in the state.
“The state government had appealed to the Centre to provide compensation on incremental basis for 10 years through Constitutional amendment following the launch of GST. The government has assured compensation for five years,” he added.
The chief minister also said the Anti-Corruption Bureau will conduct an inquiry into 12 irrrigation projects in the Konkan region and 34 projects in the Vidarbha region.
Fadnavis said he had not kept any file on the irrigation projects in Vidarbha, from where he hails, pending with him.
He said he had cleared about 100 files since taking office on October 31.