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|November 16, 1998||
Cash-strapped Goa eyes NRIs, Centre and local mines for fresh funds
To overcome the acute financial crunch, the Goa government is now on the lookout for long-term external commercial borrowings from non-resident Indians.
"Our target is a minimum of Rs 1.5 billion," says Chief Minister Dr Wilfred de Souza, who also informs that at least six such proposals have been received so far.
He is planning to strike the best deal, which will have a moratorium period of at least 10 years for repayment, at six per cent interest rate.
He has also sought a loan of Rs 1 billion from the Centre. The proposal is already being processed by the Union finance ministry, he informs. The decision is expected by the month-end.
At the same time, Dr de Souza is also planning to strengthen the local revenue generation base by mainly targeting Goa's prime industry of mining, which has been avoiding duty payments by resorting to administrative jugglery.
The strong mining lobby faced a major jolt from the new coalition government, when several mines were raided last month and unregistered heavy machinery found.
Ignoring the contention of the Goa Mineral Ore Owners Association, the machinery has been now categorised as vehicles, collecting taxes at the rate of Rs 33,000 per vehicle. While Rs 6 million has been already collected, the transport department expects at least Rs 7 million more by completing its registration process.
Following this, Dr de Souza has also said that the mining industry has been not paying royalty in toto. Quoting the Supreme Court order in the Bihar case, the government has now decided to collect royalty on ore-mixed mud extracts. "It would add at least Rs 200 million to our treasury," says the chief minister.
Noticing high-level corruption at the six border outposts adjoining Maharashtra and Karnataka, Dr de Souza has also evolved a novel way of overcoming the problem: one official each of the excise, police and transport departments will be posted at one table under one roof.
He is confident this would reduce the extent of underhand dealing while increasing the revenue.
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