February 13, 2005, Hindustan Times

Advocating the State Government to adopt Value-Added Tax (VAT) as it was a step in the right direction, which would mobilize additional revenues, a consumer society suggested Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to introduce fiscal discipline and management bill to establish necessary legislative framework for having better fiscal management.

Suggesting the same at a pre Budget meeting to Raje, the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) stated that diminishing excise revenues in real terms was a cause for worry. In this regard, the Government should learn from Andhra Pradesh and double its revenues by adopting a rationale excise policy.

CUTS General Secretary Pradeep Mehta said that the Government should hand-over certain services like hospitals, printing and publishing to the private sector. This (of privatizing the same) should be done in a phased manner, he said, adding that allowing private sector a free hand without the required regulatory framework would be a ready recipe for a mess.

The Government, he suggested, should set up a State competition and regulatory agency for setting standards and enforcing them as well for expensive sub-standard services were costing consumers and the economy dear. At the same time, it stated that private investment was one avenue, the Government could look at to ease out of its present fiscal stress, according to a Press statement issued here on Saturday.

In a pre-Budget memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Mehta said that the Government should productively use public money for developing priority areas like infrastructure and social capital. Private investment should be attracted to allow competition for efficient service delivery, within the ambit of effective regulatory environment.