Chandy demands increase in support price of paddy

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy demanded in the Assembly on Tuesday that the support price for paddy should be increased.

Participating in the general discussion on the revised Budget for the current year, Mr. Chandy said that increasing the rubber subsidy for farmers with holdings of up to two hectares should also be considered.

He recalled that the number of welfare pensioners had gone up from 12.9 lakh at the end of LDF rule to 34.4 lakh during the UDF. Though Dr. Thomas Isaac had presented six Budgets before, during LDF rule, pensions had remained at Rs. 300 a month. It was the UDF government that increased them up to Rs. 1500 a month for older persons aged above 75 years. This should not be curtailed in the name of unifying pensions at Rs. 1000 a month.

He said that the non-tax revenues during UDF rule had gone up by 336 per cent. However, Dr. Isaac did not mention that in his White Paper on State Finances. Sales tax revenues had gone up by 92 per cent in five years.

Former Minister K. M. Mani said that the no money had been earmarked in the revised Budget for the economic revival package. The green tax proposed in the Budget would affect ordinary people who own old vehicles. The rich always brought new ones.

He demanded that steps should be taken to ensure a price of Rs. 200 a kg for rubber. The Budget proposed no steps to help rubber cultivation.

He said that while the previous government had banished lotteries sold by Santiago Martin from the State, now the Chief Minister’s legal advisor was appearing for Mr. Martin before the High Court.

Ms. Veena George (CPI-M) asked why tax collection had dropped during UDF rule.

Mr. K. V. Vijayadas (CPI-M) said that previous government had issued stays on tax collection and granted tax concessions to rich people.

Mr. M. Swaraj (CPI-M) said that the revised Budget had proposals to remove the sorrows of people. Dr. Isaac had proposed no ban on appointments, but only restrictions on creation of new posts.