Taking forward the agenda of the former Narendra Modi government in Gujarat and now at the Centre, Chief Minister Anandi Patel and Finance Minister Saurabh Patel dished out a populist and industry friendly Rs 133,465 crore budget introducing new sops for the middle class, agriculturalists, entrepreneurs, women, tribals and OBCs .
In an effort to check the price rise, the government also took the measure it was resisting so far, of reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) by 1% on all goods manufactured in the state (except petroleum products and natural gas where Gujarat has the highest VAT). Patel elaborated that this was a “long-pending demand”.
Patel said, “I assure this House that the march for development, successfully undertaken by Narendra Modi shall continue uninterrupted under our government led by Anandiben Patel in times to come,” said Patel while presenting his first budget in the state legislative Assembly on Tuesday. Earlier this year, the government had presented a vote on account budget due to Lok Sabha elections.
Attempting to woo the low-income and middle-income groups of the society, Patel also made provisions to prevent rise of LPG prices in the state, and effected a 10 per cent reduction in passenger tax on sale of tickets on buses belonging to the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation.
“We have presented this budget with a lot of clarity. No new taxes will be put on the people of Gujarat,” said Saurabh Patel after presenting the budget which shows an increase of 17 per cent compared to the budget size of 2013-14. The 2014-15 budget has the highest ever allocation made for the social sector that largely focusses on education, employment and healthcare and accounting for 48 per cent of the plan outlay of Rs 71,330 crore.
The budget that tries to touch all sections of the society, promises to benefit the farmers of the state by completing all remaining works of Narmada canals and distribution network in a phased manned by 2015-16.
The Anandi Patel government provided for Rs 267 crore as assistance to one lakh BPL families and three lakh APL families for toilets and for carrying out works of additional toilets in 7,700 schools under the Mahatma Gandhi Swachchata Mission announced by the Modi government at the Centre, to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi.
The budget also makes an allocation of Rs 286 crore for various proposed welfare schemes for construction workers through the Labour Welfare Board.
Apart from promising to introduce a new scheme to provide six per cent interest subvention to farmers taking loans for agricultural infrastructure like wells, godowns, greenhouse and farm mechanisation, the state government has also made provisions to provide financial assistance to farmers purchasing new tractors, providing free-of-cost agricultural kits to the poorest farmers, assistance continued…