Kerala asks Centre to raise borrowing limit

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Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 18 (UNI) Kerala will ask the Centre to raise its borrowing limit from Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 crore, Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said today.

Talking to reporters here, he said if the borrowing limit was raised, the state could initiate additional construction works costing around Rs 5,000 crore and the major share could be utilised on hill and coastal highways and road repair work.

Dr Isaac said he had written to Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram to release more funds for the state so that the state government could undertake small projects easily than big ones implemented by the Centre.

However, there was no response from the Centre, he said and added that the state has decided to request the Ad Hoc committee to convene a meeting of Finance Ministers of all states in the country.

Claiming that the current financial meltdown has not affected the state badly, he said this was achieved because of the scientific methods introduced by the state government to realise tax.

Stating that the government was losing a large chunk of tax, he said various scientific measures including e-filing were being introduced to accelerate tax collection.

Dr Isaac said e-filing would be made mandator to make tax collection in order by January. Talks would be held with traders to clear their doubts in this regard.

He said the government could collect tax of Rs 861 cores till date as against Rs 726 crore compared to the corresponding period of the previous year and it expected a 30 per cent growth during the year.

The Finance Minister said next year's state budget would be presented in February. Whether it would be a full budget or not depended on the declaration of the Lok Sabha elections.

He hinted that the budget would give more thrust to infrastructure development as it was a must to maintain social security.

Dr Isaac said the global financial meltdown has already affected the coir, cashew and industrial sectors. Steps were being taken not to affect the agriculture sector.

He said for the first time, the government has cleared all arrears to the contractors releasing Rs 170 crore.

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