Punjab Budget 2013: Soft drinks, Cigarettes to cost more

The state government hiked the Value Added Tax in the Rs 460.21 crore deficit Budget presented in the state Assembly on Wednesday.

Chandigarh: Soft drinks and cigarettes will cost more in Punjab effective April 1, with the state government hiking the Value Added Tax (VAT) in the Rs 460.21 crore deficit Budget presented in the state Assembly here on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa presented the Budget for 2013-14 even as the opposition Congress members abstained from the House for the sixth successive day, holding a "mock session" outside the Assembly complex to protest suspension of their nine members last week.

Dhindsa proposed to abolish 5.5 per cent VAT on items used by children, senior citizens and the poor. The children items include school bags, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, geometry box, colours and crayons, water bottle, feeding bottles and nipples.

Those for senior citizens include hearing aids, intra ocular lens, sticks and other walking support items for the senior citizens, while the items of poor exempted from VAT include Madhani (Lassi maker), Lemon squeezer, roller and rolling pins (chakla belan), mat, brooms, pawa (used in cots), comb, hairpin and hair clippers.

In order to mop up Rs 180 crore during the financial year, Dhindsa proposed to hike VAT on cigarettes by 144 per cent, hiking it from 22.55 per cent to 55 per cent, including a 10 per cent surcharge. This will yield the state Rs 100 crore annually, Dhindsa said.

The VAT on soft drinks has been hiked from 13 per cent to 20.5 per cent which will get the state Rs 80 crore per annum.

Dhindsa said that the total Budget for 2013-14 would be of Rs 69,051.78 crore and the financial year would commence with a deficit of Rs 420.25 crore, a deficit of Rs 460.21 crore.

The Annual Plan for next year has been fixed at Rs 16,123 crore against Rs 14,000 crore in previous year - an increase of 15 per cent.

The plan focuses on development of infrastructure in power, roads, rural water supply and sanitation, health and education, Dhindsa added.