Budget 2019: CM spares common man, offers farm sops

Budget 2019: CM spares common man, offers farm sops

Minister D K Shivakumar and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara offer a glass of water to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy after he completed his three-and-a-half-hour Budget speech in Bengaluru on Friday. DH Photo/Anand Bakshi

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has spared the common man of fresh taxes in his second Budget of the coalition government but stopped short of implementing his promise of clearing the Rs 43,000-crore crop loans availed by farmers at one shot.

The only additional levy imposed by Kumaraswamy, who also holds the finance portfolio, is the increase in additional excise duty on various types of beer. Commercial taxes, levies on transport and stamps and registration have been spared. However, revenue targets have been hiked to bridge the gap.

The hike in beer prices will, however, be steep. A 650 ml bottle of Kingfisher Strong beer with MRP of Rs 130 will now cost Rs 20 more, according to sources in the excise department. The hike will fetch the government Rs 500 crore a year. The total contribution of the excise department to the state’s own taxes is 18% and stands at Rs 20,950 crore.

DH Infographics

Kumaraswamy, who presented the Budget amid a fluid political situation in the state with fears that the BJP would topple the government, got a breather on Budget day.

The BJP members, who had been disrupting the House for the last two days stating that the government had been reduced to a minority, walked out after initial slogan-shouting, allowing Kumaraswamy to complete his three-and-a-half- hour speech uninterrupted.

He has set aside Rs 12,650 crore for fiscal 2019-20 for waiver of crop loans availed by farmers from commercial and cooperative banks. Kumaraswamy had announced that the Rs 43,000-crore farm loan waiver scheme will be implemented in one stroke with required allocation in the 2019-20 Budget instead of completing the process in four stages as was planned earlier.

Also read: At 30k cr, SC/ST sub-plans get bonanza

Several new schemes have been announced with the chief minister even going in for allocation of grants geographically. For instance, Rs 5 crore has been allotted to fund assistance of Rs 7,500 per hectare under the “Karavali package” to motivate farmers of coastal and Malnad districts to cultivate paddy. Similarly, grant of Rs 20 crore has been allotted to establish international standard mango produce processing units in Ramanagaram and Dharwad districts and tomato produce processing units in Kolar district under a private partnership.

The incentive to milk producers has been increased from Rs 5 per litre to Rs 6 per litre costing the exchequer Rs 1,459 crore a year. The budget, however, does not have any big-ticket announcements.

Also read: Badami gets mega-grant, 'to keep Siddaramaiah happy'

Taking a dig at the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the Chief Minister in his budget speech noted that in the past two years, this scheme seemed to have benefited insurance companies more than farmers, as he mentioned the state’s own new crop insurance scheme. “Many farmer leaders have expressed this. In this background, our government has proposed to consider the pros and cons of implementing a new crop insurance scheme,” he said.

A total grant of Rs 17,212 crore has been provided to the Water Resources Department during 2019-20 in the Budget that proposes various irrigation schemes, tank-revival projects, comprehensive developmental works, canal modernisation-development works, bridge and barrage construction works.

Also read: Budget aims to transform Bengaluru into a global city

One thousand Karnataka Public Schools will be established in hobli headquarters in the next four years, Kumaraswamy said. Education will be provided under one roof from pre-primary level to Class 12, he said. The Budget also proposes the establishment of Christian Development Corporation in 2019-20.