Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic leading to highly stressed fiscal situation, the Assam assembly on September 2 authorised the state government to borrow additional amount of money for 2020-21.

The state assembly passed ‘The Assam Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Act, 2020’ which empowered the government to go for an additional borrowing of up to Rs 2,000 crore in view of ‘reduction in devolution of share of central taxes’ for 2019-20.

“In view of COVID-19 pandemic leading to highly stressed fiscal situation, the state government shall be eligible for additional borrowing up to 2.5 per cent of GSDP for year 2020-21,” the bill said.

In the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Union finance ministry had adjusted Rs 58,843 crore against the states’ share of central taxes in 2019-20 on account of lower collection in the previous fiscal.

“Out of this total amount, Rs 1949 crore was adjusted for the state of Assam. This one-time special dispensation is subject to amendment of state’s FRBM legislation for 2019-20,” he added.

The assembly also passed the Assam Taxation (Liquidation of Arrear Dues) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to extend the time limit of availing the benefits of liquidation scheme to July 31 from March 31 as the benefits could not be availed due to COVID-19 situation.

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The house also passed the Assam Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2020, empowering the government to extend the time limit ‘specified in or prescribed or notified under this Act in respect of actions, which cannot be completed or compiled with due to force majeure’.

Further, the assembly passed the Assam Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which was brought to supersede an ordinance of July 28 this year on the same subject that was promulgated during the lockdown period.

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