Kohima: Despite facing flak for levying COVID-19 cess on high speed diesel and motor spirit (petrol), which came to force in the state on the midnight of April 28, Nagaland chief secretary Temjen Toy said that there will be “no rollback” on the decision made by the state government as the revenue generated from the cess will only be used for COVID-19 related measures.
During a press conference on Monday, Toy said that every possible step and measure needs to be taken up to ensure the growth of the state’s economy as Nagaland is a salary-based economy and the government is the major provider. Without resources, it will become difficult for the government to run the state. He added that a number of austerity measures were also taken in this regard along with the COVID-19 cess on petroleum.
While the state government is aware of the feedback from people to rollback the cess, he said that there will be no rollback of the cess as the revenue generated from it is categorically for COVID-19 related activities and not for any other developmental or non-developmental activities. He added that imposition of COVID-19 cess should be taken in “the right spirit” as it is for “good cause”.
The chief secretary said that the categorisation of the cess for COVID-19 shows the “transparency” of the government as it is not levied for any purpose other than COVID-19. Toy added that the counterparts from the other neighboring states had appreciated the state government for having the “guts” to levy the cess categorically for COVID-19.
While the state government have been providing relief materials to stranded persons, migrant labourers, daily wage earners, he said that close to Rs 20 crore have been used for expenses other than the medical expenses. In addition, Rs 6.4 crore have been disbursed to patients, stranded students and working professionals through a special package from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, as on May 2. Toy said that the state wishes to do more but is limited in its own resources.
As reported earlier, the state’s finance department also clarified on the matter. In an attempt to raise resources to combat the deadly virus, the COVID cess on high speed diesel and motor spirit (petrol) came to effect on the midnight of April 28 at the rate of Rs 5 per litre for diesel and Rs 6 per litre for petrol and other motor spirits.
The COVID-19 cess is expected to generate additional revenue of Rs 55.58 crore annually. With an annual sale of diesel at Rs 6.10 crore approximately, the anticipated projection of revenue from diesel is Rs 30.5 crore. As for petrol, the annual sale at Rs 4.15 crore is projected to generate Rs 25 crore.
Finance commissioner Sentiyanger Imchen also said that the cess will be “withdrawn once the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is formally declared to be over”.
As pre-emptive steps taken in the form of certain austerity measures, the state government had also decided to cut down on its expenditure by freezing fresh appointments, freezing the dearness allowances (DA) and dearness relief (DR) for government employees and pensioners, in tune with the Central government.