Apparently with an eye of polls later this year,Rajasthan government in Budget 2013-14 today unveiled a series of populist measures like wheat at Re 1 per kg,free sarees and blanket to poor and proposed doing away with land tax.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot,who also holds the finance portfolio,announced several other concessions in his Budget speech in the state legislative assembly.
He announced proposal to give two sarees for women and one blanket for men of BPL families,and also to those who are getting benefits similar to the BPL,for free.
Implementation of Krishna Bhatnagar committee,related with revised pay-bands of the state employees as per sixth pay commission from July 1,2013 was another important announcement.
Gehlot announced that the government will provide Rs 1 lakh from Chief Minister’s relief fund to APL patients with annual income of Rs 1 lakh for treatment of cancer,kidney and heart ailments.
BPL patients will get free treatment in government hospitals for these ailments and will also get Rs 1 lakh as financial assistance if they get treatment in some identified private hospitals.
Community halls,inns and marriage gardens in towns and villages with one lakh population were exempted from luxury tax. Some commodities including Sabut Jeera (cumin),Sonf (fennel seeds) were proposed to be made VAT free.
In a bid to curb provide relief from inflation,Gehlot announced plans to make wheat and sugar cheaper for BPL families. BPL families will get wheat at Re 1 per kg,instead of Rs 2 per kg and sugar on Rs 10 per kg instead of Rs 13.50 kg earlier.
Gehlot also proposed to increase the number of generic medicines,which are distributed free in government hospitals under chief minister free medicines scheme,from present 400 to 600. He also announced launch of free medical testing
scheme from April 7 initially in medical colleges,district hospitals and satellite hospitals under which tests like ECG,X-ray,sonography and other tests will be made free.
The scheme will have its second phase from July 1 under which all the 428 Community Health Centres (CHC) will be covered. In the third phase of the scheme from Independence day,the facility of free testing will be made available for free in all the 1,649 city dispensaries,he said.
The poll-bound state imposed new tax proposals to earn approximately Rs 310 crore and gave relief worth Rs 400 crore.
Gehlot proposed a plan size of Rs 40,139 crore with a budgetary surplus of Rs 336.52 crore and estimated fiscal deficit of Rs 13,019.86 crore with revenue receipt of Rs 77,220.60 crore for the financial year 2013-14.
Gehlot proposed to abolish land tax,whose implementation was encountering challenges.
The Chief Minister announced a severe hike on tobacco products from 50 per cent to 65 per cent. He,however,proposed to cut down VAT from 14 per cent to 5 per cent on kdama/kem and sandal woods used in handicrafts manufacturing,stainless steel wire and wire rods and from 3 per cent to 1 per cent on repairing works under work contracts.
Gehlot said the hike in tobacco products was to demoralise its use among people.
Gehlot also the government will give laptops to accredited journalists,increase in the amount of mediclaim policy from present Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and reduced the age limit for monthly assistance amount of Rs 5,000 for eligible accredited journalists from present 62 years to 60 years.
He announced plans to set up a helpline for women initially at all the seven divisional headquarters. Women may seek police assistance by calling on the toll-free helpline.
A long pending demand with regard to state¿s old age pension and widow pension scheme was fulfilled with Chief Minister proposing to abolish a condition of not having a member above 25 years of age in family to become eligible for the schemes.
He also proposed a hike in the pension of freedom fighters from Rs 17,000 to Rs 20,000 and medical assistance amount from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per month.
The BPL families and families residing in hamlets will be provided two compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) for free.
“It is aimed at energy saving. It will cost Rs 100 crore and will save 150 MW,” Gehlot said.
To develop Jodhpur,popularly known as Sun City,a scheme named ‘Roof-top Power General Scheme¿ will be implemented with an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore.
Linking villages with population between 100-250 with roads,repairing of 6000 kms long roads with a cost of Rs 650 crore and construction works of 2,743-km long roads spread all over the state will be undertaken in the next fiscal year,he said.
With an aim to promote use of solar energy,Gehlot proposed 20 per cent grant on installing solar energy system in houses.
Measures to strengthen road network and energy production,welfare of minorities and tribal development,education were among other announcements of the budget.
Expanding Rajiv Gandhi digital student scheme,under which meritorious students are to be given laptops,Gehlot proposed to give tablet-PC worth Rs 6,000 to students ranking from 2nd to 11th in class VIII.
He also announced to set up a medical college in Jaipur and 1,000 new primary schools across the state.
To promote science education and develop scientific temperament,Gehlot said,that a science city will be set up in Jodhpur in collaboration with National Science Museum with an estimated cost of Rs 10 crore.
He also proposed a science award worth Rs 5 lakh in the memory of scientist D S Kothari.
The Chief minister proposed ‘Senior Citizen Pilgrimage scheme’ under which 25,000 senior citizens will be provided facility of pilgrimage during next fiscal year.
The government will bear travel expenses under the scheme for which special trains will be run to ferry senior citizens to pilgrim centers in the country,he said.