Shettar presents please-all poll budget

CM offers rice at Rs 2 per kg to BPL families

Shettar presents please-all poll budget

Saddled with the responsibility of leading his party in the upcoming Assembly elections, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has tried to endear himself to all sections by presenting a please-all budget, with no fresh tax proposals, for the year 2013-14.

He has come out with goodies for all and sundry, including rice at Rs 2 per kg to the BPL families, and creation of 43 new taluks.

Special focus has been given to Bangalore. At the same time, Shettar has done justice to North Karnataka, the strong vote base of the BJP in the last elections. Of the new 43 taluks to be carved out, 26 are in North Karnataka.

 Major announcements

-Creation of 43 new taluks &
starting of 272 new Nada Kacheries

-  Cyber cafes to be set up in 5,627 gram panchayats

-  Increase in Social Security Pensions for destitute widows, physically challenged, senior citizens  above 80 years

-  HRA of govt servants working in Bangalore city to be enhanced to 30 pc of their basic pay

-  Meritorious  engineering & science students in govt colleges to be given Akash Tablets

A whopping Rs 6,203 crore has been allocated for infrastructure development in the State capital, which has 28 Assembly constituencies. The ruling BJP had won 16 seats here in the last elections.

Among the big-ticket projects for Bangalore include a 25-km elevated golden quadrangle road comprising four corridors and a cluster of development projects. Shettar also fulfilled a long-pending demand of the State government employees working in Bangalore city by hiking the house rent allowance (HRA) by 5 per cent.

Taking a leaf out of the political books of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the chief minister announced rice at Rs 2 per kg to about 80 lakh BPL families in the State. About 20 kg rice per month will be provided, as being done now,  to each of the family.
The move is estimated to shoot up the annual food subsidy bill to Rs 1,200 crore from Rs 850 crore. The total outlay of the budget is Rs 1,17,005 crore, against the Rs 1,04,023 crore of the 2012-13 budget.

Farmers’ interests continue to dominate the budget proposals with the allocation of Rs 22,310 crore, comprising many new subsidy schemes.

The chief minister has proposed to reimburse electricity charges of farmers’ lift irrigation co-operative societies up to 50 HP capacity. This is over and above supply of free power to farmers’ irrigation pumps up to 10 HP capacity. Of the total allocation, sops worth Rs 6,771 crore have been rolled out to the farmers alone in order to keep them in good humour ahead of the poll. Besides, all existing farm-related schemes will be continued.

Shettar, too, presented a separate agriculture budget like his predecessors B S Yeddyurappa and D V Sadananda Gowda had done.

Shettar’s maiden budget, also the last one of the ruling party in the present term, was also in a way a report card of five years’ performance of the BJP. A large portion of his 158-page budget speech was a recap of the government’s achievements in the last four years, which made his budget speech the longest one in the recent political history of the State. Though the budget is free from new fresh tax proposals, liquor will cost a bit more (about 92 paise for a 180 ml bottle with an across-the-board hike on declared price slabs of Indian-made foreign liquor. However, excise duties or additional duties on liquor, beer and wine have been left untouched.

Costs of domestic containers, footwear up to Rs 200, doors and window frames and arecanut dehusking machine may come down as they have been brought under the lower VAT slabs.

The chief minister has ensured that all districts and regions in the State are given some special programmes or projects. The ambitious Yettinahole project for the water-starved south-interior Karnataka region, UKP III project for North Karnataka and Soubhagya Sanjeevini drinking water scheme for the three coastal districts are among them. Like his predecessors, Shettar has also doled out crores of rupees to influential religious mutts and community based institutions. The budget 2013-14 has also unveiled a slew of new programmes aimed at students and youth, including providing Akash tablets to SC/ST students who secure more than 60 per cent marks, providing internet connection to all government high schools and PU colleges and recognition for 15 private universities. The Education Department has received the highest allocation of Rs 15,599 crore.

Allocation to key sectors of irrigation and flood control, rural development, transport and housing has shrunk in the plan outlay, which has been pegged at Rs 46,450 crore.

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