Despite the financial crunch, the Maharashtra government will not impose any fresh tax to finance its free COVID-19 vaccination drive, which will cost the state exchequer Rs 6,500 crore, said Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat. “The state is in the midst of a second wave. And, the government has laid focus on expanding its vaccination drive. The state cabinet, on Wednesday, approved the vaccination for the age group of 18 to 44 years free of cost. The government has no plan to impose any new tax to mop up resources to finance the free vaccination drive. The government will finance it from its kitty,” he noted.
A senior officer from the Finance Department shared Thorat’s statement that the state will mop up the required money from its internal resources, including the annual plan and tax and non-tax revenue. “The government has no intention to introduce a new tax as done by the previous government, like imposing a surcharge of Rs 2 on petrol and diesel, which is known as drought tax, to mop up funds to tackle the drought in 2015,” he said.
Another officer said the state’s own tax revenue is estimated to be Rs 2,43,490 crore in 2021-22, an annual increase of 14% over 2019-20. The growth rate for own tax revenue is estimated to be significantly higher than the growth rate for GSDP (an annual increase of 3% over 2019-20). Hence, the own tax to GSDP ratio is estimated to increase from 6.7% in 2019-20 to 8.2% in 2021-22.
In 2021-22, SGST is estimated to be the largest source of its own tax revenue (48% of the state’s own tax revenue). SGST, in 2021-22, is estimated to be Rs 1,17,807 crore (an annual increase of 19% over 2019-20). In 2021-22, Maharashtra is expected to generate Rs 44,000 crore through the collection of Sales Tax and VAT, an annual increase of 8% from 2019-20.
Thorat said the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has instructed the administration to ensure that there is no difficulty in planning the immunization program for the age group of 18 to 44 years. He added that citizens in this age group should register on the Co-Win app and they should not rush to vaccination centers.