Expert comm against mines lease to private operators

Bhubaneswar: Asking state government to raise the lower rate of VAT from 4 per cent to 5 per cent, the expert committee on revenue enhancement measures on Monday recommended stoppage of leasing out mines of major minerals to private operators.

"In future all mines of important minerals should be recommended and leased out only in favour of the state owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) and should not be given to private operators," the expert committee headed by former bureaucrat Sanjeev Hota said in its report.

Stating that the state could earn a good amount of revenue if major mines were leased to OMC, the committee said the private operators make huge profit.

On rampant illegal mining activities, the committee suggested that the it should enhance vigilance and enforcement activities in order to check the menace.

The committee, set up on the advice of the 13th Finance Commission, also suggested at least Rs 1,000 per hectare per annum as the surface rent for land not accessible to land revenue with respect of major minerals.

"This may, however, be applicable to new leases and renewals only," it said adding that rate of surface rent should be enhanced. .
Suggesting the state government to get prepared for the eventual introduction of GST, the committee said state`s case of entry tax as a substitute for octroi (now abolished) would be further strengthened if the relevant act incorporates a provision that compensation to local bodies for the loss of octroi duty would be the first charge on revenue out the proceeds of this tax.

The committee also made several recommendations on professional tax, state excise duty, motor vehicle tax, land revenue, stamp duty and registration, electricity duty, mining royalty, forest revenue, irrigation and industrial water rates.