Bangalore: Laying thrust on "social justice" in budget 2014-15, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday spared the common man of fresh tax ahead Lok Sabha polls, but made beer and liquor consumption more taxing.
The Chief Minister said: "Lok Sabha polls did not weigh on my mind while presenting the budget. It was rather an inclusive, growth-oriented budget with an emphasis on empowering all weaker sections of the society."
Siddaramaiah, who holds the Finance portfolio also, sought to give a push to agriculture, backward classes, minorities and SC/STs.
The Congress Government has not burdened the common man and the poor and levied taxes on liquor and beer, he said after presenting the budget, his second as the Chief Minister and ninth in his career.
Beer and liquor prices are to go up. Additional excise duty on beer has been hiked from 112 per cent to 135, apart from raising licence fee of primary distillery, Indian liquor manufacturing distillery and brewery by 50 per cent.
The budget also proposed a levy of 5.5 per cent VAT on liquor sold by bar and restaurants in urban areas and by clubs, lodging and star hotels.
In a pro-farmer move, he announced `Krishibhagya` scheme to improve livelihood of rain-fed farmers that would benefit 53 lakh peasants. The cap on short-term, interest-free agriculture loans has also been raised to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 2 lakh.
He also allocated Rs 800 crore to Department of Minorities Welfare, Haj and Wakf. An amount of Rs 125 crore has been provided under Christian Development Scheme.
For backward classes, considered his support base, Siddaramaiah allocated Rs 1,445 crore. Schemes for SC/ST include free laptops for students of engineering, medical and journalism courses and increase in incentive to the inter-caste marriage of SC girls to Rs one lakh from Rs 50,000.
In a significant step, he announced that necessary steps would be taken for introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has been hanging fire for long following resistance by opposition-ruled states.
Bangalore also gets an infrastructural boost with a wide array of proposals amounting to nearly 3,700 crore for various projects related to development of roads, footpath, railway under-bridges.