Populist Himachal budget again , smokers choke


budget 2013Shimla : Despite being the first budget of the new Congress government in Himachal Pradesh , most  sections in Himachal Pradesh have not been taxed , barring smokers who will now have to cough up twice as much VAT to smoke.

Presenting the budget in the state assembly on a chilly and rainy day here chief minister Virbhadra Singh has offered sops to the youth , farmers , government employees  the industry and tourism sectors among others.

The budget also includes several populist points picked up from the Congress’election manifesto which helped it regain power from the BJP .

It includes a ‘Skill development allowance’ of Rs 1000 per month to be given to 10+2 and above educated unemployed youth between 25 and 35 years whose family annual income is less than Rs 2 lakh .

These courses will be three months to two years long . This allowance can be used to upgrade one’s skill wherever he or she proposes to get a job .

To attract more industrial investments the state will now promises to grant approvals within 90 days for setting up industrial units .

A CST of 1.5 per cent has been proposed for existing industrial units . New units set up after 1 April 2013  and those carrying out substantial expansion will be given the facility of CST of 1 per cent

The budget also proposes three new state of the art industrial areas in Una, Solan and Kangra districts .

To encourage aircrafts to fly to popular tourist destinations like Shimla , Kullu and Kangra VAT on aviation turbine fuel will be reduced from 5 to 1 per cent .

To promote opening of new hotels and tourist facilities in backward panchayats of the state new hotels will be exempted from payment of luxury tax for ten years .

Shelving the previous government’s failed anti-hail gun plan . The Virbhadra led government has announced anti-hail nets to horticulturists (mostly apple farmers) on 80 per cent subsidy so that they can protect standing fruit crops from damage by hail .

Procurement price of milk has been increased from Rs 17.80 to Rs 18.80 per litre from April 1 this year .

To ensure 24 hour power to all consumers in power surplus Himachal the distribution of electricity will be strengthened by commissioning of 20 high voltage lines of 66 kv capacity  and above with an outlay of Rs 207 crore .

Also 55 distribution schemes of 33 kv capacity and below shall be taken up for execution with an outlay of Rs 156 crore .

PTA grants have been announced to school cadre lecturers , TGT and C&V teachers by raising the grants by at least a quarter .

Contractual employees completing six years of service and  daily wagers completing seven years on 31 March this year will be regularised .

Monthly incentive to be increased from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 and from Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 to PG doctors to opt for remote postings in the hill state .

Shoes will cost more now as 9 per cent VAT has been proposed on all types of footwear .

VAT on cigarettes and cigars to be increased from 18 per cent to 36 per cent and on bidis from 11 per cent to 22 per cent .

The total budget expenditure estimated for 2013-14 is Rs 21767 crore . Rs 6956 will be spent on salaries Rs 2839 on pensions.

Interest payments and loan repayments will be Rs 2431 crore and Rs 1714 crore respectively .Also Rs 342 crore will be spent on other loans and Rs 1721 crore on eminence .

The total budget estimates are Rs 17,700 , after expenditure a revenue surplus of Rs 54 crore remains . The fiscal deficit is expected to be Rs 2324 crore which is 2.85 per cent of the GSDP .

Out of every 100 rupees of state revenue receipts , Rs 30.35 will accrue from own tax revenues , Rs 13.52 from non tax revenue , Rs 15.35 from share of Central taxes and Rs 40.78 from Central grants .

Out of every 100 rupees spent , salaries will account for 31.95 , pensions Rs 13.05 , interest payment Rs 11.17 , loan repayments for Rs 7.87 and the remaining Rs 35.96 will be spent on developmental works and other activities .