Kohima | June 15
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on June 15 said that the government took a considered decision to levy COVID-19 Cess following a preliminary assessment of the levels of expenditure that would have to be incurred to fight the pandemic.
Expenditure on augmenting health infrastructure and procurement protective items and medicines, among others, were considered during the preliminary assessment, said Rio while addressing a press conference on Monday in Kohima.
He was discussing the negative impact on COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
Against this backdrop, the government decided to raise extra resources from the petroleum sector since it is one of the few areas that remain outside the purview of GST and within the domain of the state, he said while pointing out that Nagaland is not the only state that has raised rates of tax on petroleum products.
“We have only decided to name it COVID-19 Cess to ensure that amounts collected are used entirely for the purpose of fighting the pandemic by making it more visible and traceable,” said Rio.
The amount of COVID-19 Cess collected was Rs. 0.24 crore in April and Rs. 3.36 crore in May 2020. The estimated collection for the financial year 2020-21 is Rs. 37.25 crore.
The collections so far are a fraction of what we have already spent without budgetary support, he maintained.
The coming months will continue to see significant expenditure in the transportation and caring of returnees, purchase of medicines and equipments, completion of the BSL labs and related expenses and investments to augment district hospitals, he highlighted.
Rio said that there are also other frontline agencies like the administration, police, fire services who are incurring heavy expenses in their daily activities connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.