Rice at Rs 2 a kg, no new taxes in Shettar's budget

FP

The BJP government in Karnataka presented its final budget ahead of elections through its third Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar here Friday intended primarily to showcase the past and present populist measures of the government.

Shettar's budget proposes an expenditure of Rs 1.17 lakh crore in 2013-14 state budget, up 14 per cent from the Rs 1.02 lakh crore expenditure proposed in the 2012-13 budget.

There are no new taxes but a slew of goodies, some new, some re-packaged, that have been unveiled, including rice at a price of Rs 2 per kg for below poverty line families and cash incentives or Akash tablets for 1.47 lakh SC/ST students who have secured more than 60 per cent marks in exams.

Old schemes like free power for irrigation pumpset users, farm loan waivers, 4 per cent interest loans to farmers, special grants to dry land region farmers, tax concessions on diesel for fishing boats, grants to religious entities like temple maths introduced by former CM B S Yeddyurappa have been expanded or continued without changes.

The BJP government has also proposed creation of 43 new administrative regions and an increase in reservations for women in taluk panchayats and city corporations from 33 per cent to 50 per cent.

The budget is estimated to have a revenue surplus of Rs 585 crore. The fiscal deficit is projected at Rs 16,714 crore and total liabilities at Rs 1.34 lakh crore or 22.35 per cent of GSDP — both figures within the demands of fiscal responsibility for the year 2013-14. The free power to irrigation pumps are projected to cost Rs 5,250 crore up from Rs 4,600 crore in 2012-13 and loan waivers will amount to Rs 1,521 crore.

Among the major outlays in the budget, the BJP government proposed Rs 17,200 crore for implementation of stage three of the Upper Krishna irrigation project, which covers the northern parts of the state — a key vote base for BJP. The outlay for agriculture is up by 13.5 per cent at Rs 22,310 crore.

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