Kerala budget hikes levy on liquor, pan masala
Thiruvananthapuram: In its first budget since coming to power, the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala on Friday increased levies on liquor, pan masala, luxury cars and buildings but spared the common man of any heavy burden.
The revised budget for 2011-12 presented by Finance Minister K M Mani in the state assembly increased all social security and workers pensions from Rs 300 to Rs 400 and unveiled a slew of welfare measures targeting various segments including farmers, farm workers and fishing community.
The budget sought to mobilise an additional revenue of Rs 600 crore through various imposts.
Voicing concern over alarming increase in liquor consumption in Kerala, Mani increased social security cess on liquor from 1 per cent to 6 per cent, expecting additional revenue of Rs 135 crore and also reintroduced the surcharge of 10 per cent on Indian Manufactured Foreign Liquor targeting to a net Rs 192 crore.
The tax on pan masala and tobacco products was raised to 20 per cent, expecting to mobilise Rs 5 crore.
Another source of additional revenue was from the state lotteries which will have daily draws instead of weekly draws, expected to yield Rs 263 crore to the state exchequer.
The budget slapped a cess of 2 per cent on tax of luxury cars and a 2 per cent cess would be collected from building tax on constructions that exceeded 4,000 sq ft.
In a relief to all sections, the registration fee on partition deeds of family properties had been fixed at the rate of Rs 1,000, doing away with the value-based fee system.
A comprehensive health insurance scheme for BPL sections with government bearing the premium amount allowing the beneficiaries to take treatment both in government and private hospitals was also announced.
The budget made certain modifications in tax payment under compounding system for gold traders, with a view to mobilizing an additional revenue of Rs 15 crore.
With an objective to check tax evasion, the maximum amount of Rs 4 lakh has been increased to Rs 8 lakh for each rule violation, targeting an additional income of Rs 1 crore.
The small and marginal farmers holding less than 1 hectare would get a pension of Rs 3,600 per year. An amount of Rs 25 crore has been earmarked for this purpose. The budget proposed to exempt farmers` lands from the purview of Forest and Environment rules.
Giving priority to infrastructure development, the budget earmarked amounts for various projects, including Vizhinjam International Container Terminal (Rs 150 crore), SmartCity IT Park (Rs 10 crore), Kochi Metro (Rs 25 crore), Kannuar Airport (Rs 30 crore) and for Kottayam mobility Hub (Rs 5 crore).
Another major initiative was a scheme to make Sabarimala Lord Ayyapa shrine a `Zero Waste Zone` by implementing a comprehensive project of setting up Waste Treatment Plants at nearby areas of the shrine.
The budget allocated an amount of Rs 5 crore for the project`s initial expenses. Mani criticised the previous LDF government`s financial
management and said the state was in a `debt trap` with a total loan of Rs 19,633.28 crore.
Revised budget showed a total revenue income of Rs 39,427.51 crore, while a revenue expenditure of Rs 44,961 crore. The total year-end deficit stood at Rs 350.27 crore.
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