Siddu wants cheap, safe liquor for poor
Chief Minister leaves for Delhi today
A day after announcing freebies costing Rs 4,409 crore, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is understood to have directed the State Excise Department to explore the possibility of introducing a “cheap and safe” liquor brand for the poor and labour class.
Siddaramaiah said on Tuesday, after a meeting with heads of almost all departments, that the poor, especially the labour class, had been hit hard ever since arrack was banned in the State. They had been forced to depend on expensive liquor. He, therefore, directed the officials to prepare a detailed report on the cheap liquor brand and submit it to the government.
Arrack was banned in 2007 by the then coalition government of the Janata Dal-Secular and the Bharatiya Janata Party. H D Kumaraswamy was the chief minister then.
There has been a steep increase in the sale of Indian-made liquor and Indian-made foreign liquor after the ban on arrack.
Siddaramaiah held an eight-hour non-stop meeting, aimed at preparing a new budget, at his chamber in Vidhana Soudha. He reviewed performances of about 25 departments, including the Finance, Planning, Energy, Water Resources, Revenue and Urban Development.
While the chief minister was busy holding the meeting here on Tuesday, many State Congress leaders, including Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief G Parameshwara, were lobbying in New Delhi before the high command for ministerial posts.
Siddaramaiah will leave for New Delhi on Wednesday. He has sent the names of at least three MLAs as his choice for ministerial berths to the high command through the KPCC chief.
He directed all four major departments—Commercial Taxes, Excise, Stamps and Registration and Motor Vehicle Taxes—to increase tax collection and generate more revenue. He asked the departments to revise their 2013-14 revenue targets. Besides, the Finance Department was directed to cut down wasteful expenditure and increase tax collection. The department was also asked to prepare a white paper on the State finance.
Siddaramaiah later told the Stamps and Registration Department to revise guidance (government) value of land in major cities and towns every year to improve tax collection.
There is a huge difference between the market value and the guidance value of land in major cities. Land prices are increasing in all places. Hence, steps have to be taken to revise the guidance value every year.
Siddaramaiah also wanted the Energy Department to prepare a plan for ensuring 24/7 power supply to the rural areas.