Boost non-tax revenue: Further fiscal slippage to dent Budget's credibility

Boost non-tax revenue: Further fiscal slippage to dent Budget's credibility: The latest slippage is all the more worrying because fiscal prudence had been one of the main achievements of this government...

Asset monetization

This refers to your editorial “Boost non-tax revenue” (Business Standard, February 5). The editorial sums up the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ and possible future policy corrections GOI can keep in view as the discussion on the budget presented by Arun Jaitley on February 1 progresses in parliament. You have rightly pointed out the need for proper asset monetization to partly address resources problems of the government. There is no point in holding assets worth billions and getting a blame for the asset-liability mismatch in the budgets every year resulting in the country being seen in poor light by the outside world. One will never forget the situation in which gold was physically carried to UK for pledging to avoid a default.
At this stage GOI should go one step further. The editorial talks about the value of immovable assets held by the government. What about the movable and immovable assets held by various organizations including places of worship? No, I am not talking about ‘nationalizing’ wealth. But, it is government’s responsibility to ensure that assets acquired/accumulated by collections from public and movable and immovable assets inherited by organizations or bodies are transparently accounted with clarity about sources and uses.
Where huge expenditure is incurred by the government for the security of premises where such assets are held, as in the cases of places of worship, the owners of such assets should share a part of the security expenses, depending on the size of the treasure.
Another source for improving revenue is taxing agricultural income. Also, state and central governments need to have a policy on handling windfall incomes and expenditure shocks. The management of the former should partly cover the outgo on account of the latter.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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