Five per cent tax on rice bran oil, new schemes added to Budget

Kerala Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac replying to general discussion on revised Budget on July 13.Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac announced five per cent tax on rice bran oil to fetch Rs. 10 crore and announced new schemes costing Rs. 32.85 crores in the Assembly on Wednesday.

Replying to the general discussion on the revised Budget for 2016-17, the Minister also included more projects, requiring Rs. 1267 crore, under the special investment programme proposed in the Budget.

These include development of Chitranjali Studio as film city (Rs. 25 crore ), apartment complex for All India Service Officers (Rs. 15 crore), maintenance of National Games roving track and construction of hostel at Alappuzha (Rs. 10 crore), establishment of Crest campus at Cyber Park, Kozhikode (Rs. 15 crore) and seven revenue towers (Rs. 70 crore).

Money will also be allocated for nine drinking water projects, 34 roads, six bypasses, nine bridges, five fly overs, four railway over bridges, and six stadia.

Dr. Isaac informed the Assembly that those welfare pensioners getting more than Rs. 1000 a month would continue to get it. A scheme would be prepared for building houses for plantation workers.  The proposed mega food park would be set up at Wayanad.

Making amends to his announcement in the Budget, the Finance Minister said that there would be no ban on appointments. Posts would be created as per norms. Demand for changes in the tax hikes proposed could be considered at the Subject Committee.

The government would purchase coir and handloom and sell them at a loss. Five per cent subsidy would be given for handloom throughout the year besides festival discounts. Public sector units would be revived.

He announced that a pilot project for upgradation high schools and higher secondary schools to hitech schools would be taken up next month itself at Puthukkad, Thaliparambu, Alappuzha and Kozhikode North. The project would be extended to more schools before December after considering the experience under the pilot project.

The royalty being collected from the black clam lime shell industrial co-operative societies would be spent for revival of the societies and welfare of workers. Rs. 3 crore was initially being earmarked for that.

He said that Rs. 2 crores each would be allocated for boat races and wakf board. Rs. 1 crore would be allotted for renovation of Haj house.

He said that Rs. 7 crore had been earmarked in the Budget for Kochi biennale. Funds would be allocated for a permanent venue for the biennale after a detailed study.

Rs. 15 crore would be made available for cleanliness campaign under Suchitwa Mission. Special arrangement would be made for supply of medicines at cheap rates for those who undergo transplantation surgeries.  Arrears of grants to arts and cultural societies would be cleared. Rs. 50 lakh would be allocated for takeover of Itty Achuthan Memorial at Cherthala.

The allocation for project for Gulf returnees would be doubled. More funds would be allocated for market intervention to check prices of essential commodities.

Dr. Isaac said that he had announced the economic revival (anti-recession) package on the basis of a study conducted by SBP Caps during UDF rule. The previous government too had proposed raising of funds for developmental projects through bonds.

He said that the government was targeting to achieve investment of Rs. 1 lakh crore in four years. By that time, the revenue deficit of the State would be near zero.  Current difficulties arose from failure of the UDF government to collect taxes. It had destabilised fiscal stability achieved by the previous LDF Government.

Referring to the claim of UDF that its government had increased non-tax revenue by 336 per cent besides capital expenditure, the Minister said that the non-tax revenue constituted only less than 20 per cent of the total revenue. The plan expenditure was only 74 per cent during UDF rule. The UDF government had carried out only 31 per cent of its Budget announcements.

Earlier, participating in the debate Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that Dr. Isaac’s Budget this year was free of criticism of Centre unlike his budgets in the past (2006-11). The present budget was also friendly towards traders and industrialists.

The revised Budget, he said, was built over anti-recession package. Raising money outside the Budget was good approach but impractical. A viable business model was needed to raise funds through special purpose vehicles.