Delhi seeks bigger share of tax pie

Kejriwal govt presents vote-on-account, wants more from central tax pool

The Delhi government on Tuesday presented a vote-on-account in the Assembly for the next three months and sought allocation of a bigger share out of the central tax pool along with free land for welfare projects.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tabled documents for a full-fledged Budget for 2015-16 but sought the Assembly’s approval on provisions for the first three months only. The discussion on the vote-on-account is scheduled on Wednesday.

Justifying the decision to bring in a vote-on-account, Sisodia said, “We will bring the full Budget in June. We are collecting suggestions from people on budget-making and spending.”

He also proposed setting up a new Metropolitan Planning Authority for development, especially in slums and rural areas.

He accused the successive central governments of freezing Delhi’s share in central taxes at Rs 325 crore over the past 14 years, despite recommendations of the Central Finance Commission to raise states’ share in the central taxes from 32 to 42 per cent.

Sisodia said the total Budget  Estimate for 2015-16 is proposed at Rs 37,750 crore.
“The proposed total expenditure of Rs 37,750 crore will be financed mainly from our own tax revenue to the extent of Rs 32,641 crore, Rs 1,327 crore from Non-Tax Revenue,” he said.

In the Budget estimates for 2015-16, the roads, bridges and transport sectors got the highest allocation of Rs 3,464 crore followed by health with Rs 2,397 crore. School and technical education got a combined allocation of Rs 2,292 crore

Sisodia demanded a larger share for the city out of the total service tax and income tax that Delhiitees contribute to the federal pool.

Delhi contributes 16 per cent of the service tax and income tax collected by the central government, he said.

“We are seeking only 0.65 per cent of this total collection. With this, Delhi will get Rs 4,000 crore. We are asking for 65 paise out of Rs 100,” he said.

While presenting the 2015-16 Budget figures, Sisodia said the government has planned to allocate Rs 21,500 crore for non-plan expenditure while the plan outlay will be Rs 16,250 crore.

The proposed non-plan expenditure is Rs 3,000 crore more than last year’s allocation while plan outlay would be Rs 100 crore less than last year’s outlay.

Among the allocation to government hospitals, GTB Hospital got the biggest share of Rs 1,280 crore. Lok Nayak Hospital got the next highest allocation of Rs 1,250 followed by Ambedkar Hospital with Rs 1,200 crore.

Under the urban development head, Sisodia allocated Rs 280 crore under the MLA Fund Scheme.

For speedy trial and better judicial infrastructure, the Deputy Chief Minister allocated Rs 112 crore for construction of court buildings by the Public Works Department.

Sisodia allocated Rs 175 crore for the elevated road under Barapullah Drain Phase-3.
The Delhi government will spend Rs 7.79 crore on the council of ministers during 2015-16, according to the Budget estimates. 

While demanding free land from the central government for welfare projects, he said, “As a result, a major chunk of the state resources is spent on purchase of land. The taxpayer money spent for purchase of land could have been used for development of infrastructure.”

At present, all the land is owned by the Delhi Development Authority which come under the Union Urban Development Ministry.

Maken, Shastri mark presence
Congress leaders and two former speakers Ajay Maken and Yoganand Shastri briefly attended the Delhi Assembly from the Lieutenant Governor’s Gallery on Tuesday, making them the only faces present in the House from the grand old party, which has failed to send even a single legislator to the current House.

Speaker Ram Niwas Goel praised the two former Speakers while introducing them to members.

The Congress leaders turned up in the visitors’ gallery at a time when the opposition BJP legislators were taking a dig at their party by claiming that the Congress had been vanquished.

Symbolically, the two Congress leaders tried to make up for the absence of any elected members from the party in the new House and became the first partymen who saw the Assembly proceedings under the Arvind Kejriwal government.

Sisodia at his poetic best
Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Manish Sisodia was at his poetic best while presenting the vote-on-account.

Delivering his speech in Hindi, he read out couplets to sarcastically refer to the difference in the ground reality and the proposals that officials make in files.

While expressing the desire of the Arvind Kejriwal government to do something new in the Budget exercise, Sisodia used a poem to talk about the projection of a rosy picture by the administrator while the ground reality remains drastically different.

On another occasion, he tried to reflect politicians’ and bureaucrats’ false claims through a poet’s words, which questioned an official to tell how many years will electricity take to reach his village despite the proposal being approved in files.

BJP MLA opens his account
BJP legislator from Vishwas Nagar O P Sharma opened his account by speaking for the first time in an official discussion in the new Assembly.

He was the only BJP legislator, out of the three in the 70-member House, who failed to get permission from the chair to raise an issue in the House during the first session of the new Assembly in February. On Tuesday, Sharma raised the issue of the recent hike in water tariff and demanded that it be withdrawn.

Indirect praise for Najeeb Jung
While reeling out figures in the Assembly, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia showcased the impressive growth in the Gross State Domestic Product and the high growth rate of 8.2 per cent in Delhi during the financial year 2014-15, as compared to the national growth rate of 7.4 per cent.

The city was under the President’s rule and administered by LG Najeeb Jung for almost 11 months in the previous fiscal and the last Budget was passed by the central government in July 2014. Undeniably, the credit for growth during the current fiscal goes to Jung.

Voice vote as ritualistic nod
There were a few lighter moments in the Assembly during the approval of the supplementary demands for 2014-15.

While Speaker Ram Niwas Goel quickly read out half a dozen items and the treasury benches approved them with voice vote as a matter of ritual, BJP leader Vijender Gupta  asked for the hard copies of the documents which the House was approving.

Goel realised the faux pas and agreed to get the documents distributed to each legislator and restarted the voting on all the items. But Goel was not finished yet. While the items were being passed by voice vote on the second occasion and Gupta was scanning through the documents, the Speaker, in a lighter vein, asked him, “You are not saying anything, say no or yes. Say some thing at least, now that you have got the documents to read before voting.”

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