BJP Presents Please-All Budget in Poll-Bound Karnataka
Presenting a please-all budget for 2013-14 in poll-bound Karnataka, the state's BJP government today announced it would provide rice at Rs two a kg, pro-farmer schemes and creation of 43 new talukas.
Eighty two lakh families belonging to below poverty line would get rice supplied through PDS at Rs two per kg from April 1, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said in his first budget presented in the assembly.
And with an eye on elections due in May this year, Shettar proposed creation of 43 new talukas as he presented the budget proposals.
"This is a growth-oriented budget and aims at inclusive growth. All sections of the society have been taken care of in the budget. Education, Health, Power and Irrigation sectors will get thrust", Shettar told a post-budget press conference.
The Chief Minister presented a separate Agriculture budget -- the third time the BJP government is doing so -- prior to unveiling the general budget.
The government enhanced budgetary outlay for agriculture and allied activities by 13.5 per cent to Rs 22,310 crore in 2013-14.
While continuing the scheme of free supply of electricity to irrigation pumpsets up to 10 HP in 2013-14, Rs 5,250 crore will be provided for payment of subsidy to electricity supply companies, Shettar said.
Electricity consumption charges of pumpsets belonging to already existing and working farmers lift irrigation cooperative societies up to 50 HP would be reimbursed.
The scheme of providing short-term crop loan up to Rs one lakh at zero per cent interest from cooperative institutions and at three per cent from commercial banks would be continued.
For price support operations, funds up to Rs 1,000 crore will be facilitated in the revolving fund, Shettar said.
Besides agriculture, the separate budget encompasses the sectors of sugar, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, sericulture, cooperation, agriculture market, water resources and minor irrigation.
"Rs 1,200 crore is reserved for food subsidy during 2013-14", said Shettar, who tabled the Rs 1,17,005 crore budget, an increase of 13.88 per cent over the figure of Rs 1,02,742 crore in the previous year.
He sought approval for vote on account for the period up to July 31 this year.
"Revenue surplus is estimated to be Rs 585 crore. Fiscal deficit is expected to be Rs 16,714 crore, which is 2.78 per cent of GSDP," he said.
Shettar said total liabilities at Rs 1,34,472 crore at the end of 2013-14 are estimated to be 22.35 per cent of GSDP, which is within the ceiling of 25.2 per cent limit of the Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act for the year 2013-14.
Meanwhile, liquor prices will go up and footwear will cost less as per the budget proposals.
The government proposed to revise the 17 slabs of declared prices relating to Indian made liquor by increasing each of them by Rs 40, and double the licence fee collected for transfer of retail liquor licence and bar and restaurant licences from one person to another.
Footwear costing up to Rs 200 per pair would be exempted from tax. Tax exemption on paddy, rice, wheat, pulses and products of rice and wheat would be continued for one more year from April this year.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah (Congress), termed the budget "aim-less, direction-less".
The budget appeared to be a "BJP manifesto" (for the Assembly elections, due in May)", he said in his reaction.
Siddaramaiah alleged that not a single mega watt power capacity had been added during the last five years and whatever extra generation that had been done was the result of programmes initiated during the earlier governments.
Coming down on the proposal to provide PDS rice at Rs two a kg to families below poverty line, he asked why the government did not announce this in the first year of its governance.
JDS leader M C Nanaiah said "the budget is a progress card submitted by the government. There is nothing new in it".
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