Cess on petrol, diesel, telecom services proposed to fund Swachh Bharat initiatives

You could soon be paying more for the Narendra Modi government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, with further levies being considered to fund the cleanliness programme. The mission that was launched on October 2, 2014, envisages an investment of nearly Rs 2.23 lakh crore by October 2019.

The measures under consideration include a 0.5% cess on petrol, diesel and telecom services, a 1% cess on accumulated waste produced by mineral generation plants and a 0.5 percentage point increase in service tax. The government imposed a 0.5% Swachh Bharat cess on taxable services from November 15. The government is also contemplating long-term, tax-free Swachh Bharat bonds to raise funds, a senior official told ET.
An announcement to this effect could be made in the February budget if it finds favour with the finance ministry. The proposals have been made by Niti Aayog, which has been in talks with states on Swachh Bharat. “Government is considering all options to raise funds for the programme and one or more of these could be announced as we go forward,” the official said. The fund-raising recommendations are based on suggestions by a sub-group of chief ministers on Swachh Bharat set up by Niti Aayog. According to the official, Niti Aayog’s report on the programme had recommended several steps, saying “it is very comprehensive in its coverage and requires huge amounts of funds to cover all aspects of the mission.”

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