Delhi Budget today; petrol tax cut likely

Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit is likely to put special focus on social sector and development when she presents the Budget of her government on Monday.

New Delhi: With an eye on the Assembly polls slated for next year, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is likely to put special focus on social sector and development when she presents the annual Budget of her government for the second consecutive year on Monday.

The Budget, the second since Dikshit has been handling the finance portfolio, is expected to be a populist one and a bid to regain the Congress` support base for the Assembly Elections in the wake of the party`s crushing defeat in the municipal polls.

"The focus of the Budget is likely to be on social sector development," said a top official in the government.

In the Budget, being tabled on the first day of the Budget Session, Dikshit is expected to announce a cut in Value Added Tax on petrol to provide some relief to the people from the substantial hike in price of the fuel.

With the Congress identifying losing support base of people living in around 1,600 unauthorised colonies as a major reason for defeat in the municipal polls, the government is expected to set aside substantial amount of financial resources for infrastructure development in these settlements.

The Delhi government issued provisional regularisation certificates (PRCs) to over 1,200 unauthorised colonies ahead of assembly polls in 2008. The then Dikshit government, while distributing the certificates, had promised to regularise the colonies if Congress came to power for third term. However, not a single colony has been regularised so far.

The process had slowed down considerably last year following allegations that some "non-existent" as well as "ineligible" colonies were given provisional regularisation certificates flouting norms.

"Development works in unauthorised colonies will be a major priority for the government," a senior minister said.

The government is also likely to set aside funds in the Budget for two mega projects -- to make 20 km of the Outer Ring road between Wajirabad and Vikaspuri signal-free and extending the Barapullah elevated road to INA Market.

Both these big-ticket road infrastructure projects worth Rs 3,015 crore have already been cleared by the Cabinet last week. The education and transport sectors will also continue to remain focus areas of the government.

In the Rs 27,067-crore budget last year, the transport sector was given the highest allocation of Rs 3,348 crore, followed by Rs 1,802 crore for health sector while education has been given Rs 1,247 crore.

Officials involved in budget preparation indicated that there should not be any constraints of funds as collection of revenue in the last fiscal was quite impressive.

The government had set a target of collecting Rs 20,246 crore from tax revenue in the financial year 2011-12 and officials said the target has been met.

They said non-plan expenditure which was kept at 49.2 per cent last year would be further brought down while increasing the share of plan expenditure from last fiscal`s 50.8 per cent.

The government is also likely to cut subsidy to Delhi Transport Corporation and Delhi Jal Board. The total subsidy bill to both these organisations comes to around Rs 1,000 crore annually.

The presentation of the budget was delayed due to coming into force of election code of conduct for municipal polls.

The government had presented a vote-on-account for expenses for two months due to the election code of conduct.

In the vote-on-account, Dikshit had pegged the total budget at Rs 30,970 crore.