No new taxes in Budget, focus on weaker sections

No new taxes in Budget, focus on weaker sections

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has doled out sops and freebies to dalits, backward classes, minorities and economically weaker sections, considered the Congress’ vote bank, in the 2014-15 budget ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections. For urbanites, the budget was a raw deal as neither big projects were announced to improve living conditions, nor employment opportunities created.

The budget proposal presented in the Assembly on Friday had no major programmes for asset creation or new flagship schemes. At the same time, Siddaramaiah, who also holds the finance portfolio, did not impose any fresh tax on the common man despite a shortfall in revenue to the tune of Rs 3,716 crore in the current fiscal.

In an effort to blunt the influence of the Aam Aadmi Party in Karnataka, Siddaramaiah announced that a separate anti-corruption legislation will be enacted in the State on the lines of the Centre’s Lokpal Act. He has not honoured his promise to provide free laptops to PUC students, though SC/ST students of professional courses will get the gadget.

Siddaramaiah restrained from imposing fresh taxes on commodities. He also left stamp and registration levies and motor vehicle taxes by and large untouched. However, prices of beer and liquor will go up.

Siddaramaiah hiked additional excise duty on beer by 13 percentage points and imposed a 5.5-per cent Value Added Tax on spirits served in bars, clubs and star hotels in urban areas. VAT was being imposed on liquor for the first time, a move that would fetch the exchequer an additional Rs 200 crore per annum. The additional excise duty on beer will fetch another Rs 100 crore. These were the two only additional resource mobilisation measures (ARM) in the budget.

Interestingly, the budget proposal and ARM measures will come into effect from March 1. Traditionally, new budget proposals come into effect from the start of the financial year, April 1.

Siddaramaiah increased grants to the SC/STs under various departments from Rs 8,614 crore to Rs 15,834 crore. The biggest sop in the budget was the Rs 2,718-crore loan waiver scheme for 11.41 lakh beneficiaries who had secured loans for constructing houses under the Ashraya programme.

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