J&K Budget: A few concessions, some burden too
Jammu: Presenting Budget 2013-14, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday announced a slew of welfare measures such as mediclaim insurance for migrants and hike in daily wage rate, exempted a few essential commodities from VAT and unveiled steps to empower Panchayati Raj.
State Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather presented the Rs 38,068-crore zero deficit budget in the Legislative Assembly.
Under welfare initiatives, Omar Abdullah government has kept provision of Rs 5 crore for housing and Rs 9 crore for transit accommodation of Kashmiri migrants under PMRP, besides Rs 8 crore set apart for migrants’ group mediclaim insurance.
Government made provision of Rs 2 crore under Medical Aid Trust Fund, wage rates of daily rated workers to be enhanced to Rs 150 per and it will explore and participate in insurance cover for journalists.
"It is a budget for welfare of most of sectors -- it is focusing on infrastructural development, addressing demands, welfare initiatives, empowerment of Panchayat Raj system, further tax concessions, and reform measures," Rather told reporters.
As welfare measures, Rather said a provision of Rs 842 crore has been made to disburse third installment of Pay-Pension revision arrears. The budget also has provision of Rs 700 crore for DA to employees and pensioners, Rs 75 crore for 10 per cent Employer’s share under New Pension Scheme introduced from January, 2010.
For empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions, Rather said a provision of Rs 231 crore is made for devolution to panchayats. Panchayats would implement various schemes like MG-NREGA of the order of more than Rs 1300 crore.
"Sarpanches will get remuneration of Rs 2000 per month and Panches to get a fee of Rs 300 per sitting subject to monthly ceiling of Rs 600 per month," he said adding that the government would consider appropriate insurance cover for elected Panchayat representatives.
Besides, tax concessions (VAT Remission) to industry have been extended up to March 31, 2014 or till adoption of new GST regime.
Existing tax exemptions to the tourism sector to continue for another Year, Rather said.
He also said gutka has been banned in the state.
"State government has totally banned in Gutka -- if anyone found keeping it he would be punished," Rather said.
For additional resources mobilisation, Rather, who presented 13th budget of his career, said services provided by authorised automobile service stations, property dealers and consultants other than those already included in a service covered by J&K GST Act will be brought under service tax net.
Besides, toll rate will be increased by 5 paisa per kilogrammes in the existing rate of Additional Toll and Toll rate on import of table birds to increase from Rs 6.00 per kg to Rs 8 per kg besides VAT on cigarettes to increase from 30 PC to 40 per cent.
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