Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday rejected the demand of BJP legislators to make “The Kashmir Files” tax-free in the state, saying if the Centre waives GST on the movie, it will apply to the entire country.
Replying to a debate on state Budget in the Legislative Assembly, Mr Pawar, who is also the state’s finance minister, said the central Goods and Services Tax and the state GST are 50 per cent each.
“The issue in the film is about Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about the film in Parliament. If the central GST is waived, the tax waiver will apply to the entire country,” he said.
Enraged by Mr Pawar’s statement, the BJP legislators staged a walkout.
Notably, the BJP on Tuesday submitted a memorandum signed by 92 of its MLAs to declare “The Kashmir Files” tax-free.
Meanwhile, Mr Pawar said the state government has decided to increase the MLA fund from Rs 4 crore to Rs 5 crore, the salary of drivers of MLAs from Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000, and the salary of a personal assistant (PA) from Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000.
Speaking on the Budgetary provisions, Mr Pawar said the tax revenue is expected to increase by eight per cent. Efforts are being made to reduce the revenue deficit. The capital expenditure target is Rs 60,000 crore, he said.
The GST refund expected is Rs 26,400 crore, he added.
On Tuesday, 92 MLAs of the opposition BJP in Maharashtra signed a memorandum demanding entertainment tax exemption for “The Kashmir Files”.
The memorandum was submitted by senior BJP leader and chairperson of Maharashtra Legislature Public Accounts Committee Sudhir Mungantiwar to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The BJP had said the film conveys sentiments of patriotism and nationalism and, therefore, should be made tax-free in the state.
Written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri and produced by Zee Studios, the film depicts the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir following systematic killings of people from the community by Pakistan-backed terrorists.
It stars Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi among others.
Some states, including Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, have exempted the film from entertainment tax.
Mr Pawar also said the debt stock increased from Rs 65,000 crore last year to Rs 90,000 crore. The rise was because of natural calamities and the COVID pandemic.
“Despite all these challenges, the MVA Government left no stone unturned in keeping the state’s progress and development unhindered,” he said.
Giving the break-up of the expenditure, he said Rs 14,000 crore were (spent) for natural calamities, Rs 7000 crore for providing minimum guarantee price to farmers and Rs 2,000 crore for the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).
During the pandemic, the Centre allowed Maharashtra to take loans up to Rs 1.20 lakh crore. The state borrowed up to Rs 90,000 crore, he said.
The finance minister rejected the Opposition’s claim of bias among regions in the budgetary allocation. He said Rs 1,41,288 crore is spent towards wages, pension and interest payment on loans.