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Maharashtra Budget; tax levied on cable TV up by 50 per cent

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MUMBAI: Get set to pay more for your cable TV connection. The state finance minister Jayant Patil presented a surplus budget of Rs 305.85 crore for 2006-2007 in the Assembly. With a view to mop up an additional revenue of Rs 500 crore, Patil proposed a hike in taxes which included a 50 per cent hike in entertainment duty levied on cable operators, among other items.

Unchanged since the year 2000, this increase means that your monthly cable bills could rise anywhere between Rs 5 to Rs 15.The amount would differ from place to place, as specified by the state government.

According to news reports, those areas under municipal corporations, such as Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur, would see their tax rise from Rs 30 to Rs 45. Also, Grade-A municipal council areas would now pay Rs30 instead of Rs 20, while Grade-B & C municipal council zones would pay Rs15 instead of Rs10.

“This hike will pinch the consumer. This is extremely unfair, especially, when the government recently reduced the tax on DTH services from Rs90 to Rs30 per connection,” said a Sena MLC Anil Parab to a Mumbai newspaper.

“We cannot charge our customers in slums an exorbitant amount. They can’t even pay Rs30 as tax. So, we subsidise the rate by charging other customers more. We are likely to do the same to implement this hike,” said Cable Operators & Distributors’ Association president Ganesh Naidu in the same news report.

The Budget also proposes a hike in taxes on other items like liquor, motor vehicle tax on four wheelers and water charges. But, the Budget does bring some cheer for state finances. Apart from a revenue surpus for the second year in a row, this year's total plan outlay is Rs 14, 829 crore and growth is projected to be 8.6 per cent.

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