In the first Budget of the BJP government in Assam, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday tabled a Rs 2,880.91 crore deficit budget for 2016-17, which promises to invest Rs 30,000 crore for the welfare of people in rural areas of the state in next five years.
The size of the budget is Rs 78,253.36 crore of which total estimated plan expenditure is Rs 29,380.35 crore and the rest Rs 48,873.01 crore is estimated non -Plan expenditure.
“While the estimated state tax revenue during the current fiscal is estimated to be Rs 15,634.31 crore, estimated non-tax revenue will be Rs 5,846.52 crore. The state is expecting to receive Rs 18,938.27 crore as share of central taxes, Rs 20,246.46 crore as Plan grants and Rs 3,527.35 crore as non-Plan grants from the Centre,” said Sarma while presenting the Budget.
Announcing the Chief Minister’s Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana, he said that the government plans to invest Rs 30,000 crore over next five years to develop all 25,425 villages of the state with focused intervention in nine critical areas, including fishery, milk, organic mission, sericulture, Khadi, developing village knowledge centres, etc.
Taking to populist measure to attract the people, Sarma envisaged to bring all salary and wage provisions in the plan to the tune of Rs 450 crore into non-plan and thus the release of wages and salary will be regular and timely.
Sarma said that a cash award of Rs. 25,000 to be provided to anyone whose information, evidence, mobile or video record leads to successful apprehension of the bribe-seeker or bribe giver in the government.
The budget also proposed to reduce or withdraw VAT on e-rickshaws, candles, citronella oil, jaggery, tamarind, khandsari, baby feeding bottles and nipples, kerosene stoves and their parts, packaged drinking water and locally produced ‘mekhela chador’.
While the budget also proposed that bamboo-based industries in small scale and medium scale should be exempted from VAT for three years, it also raised the exemption limit of agricultural income tax up to Rs. 2.5 lakh from the present limit of Rs. 1 lakh for small tea growers.
Sarma said that the budget proposed to reduce taxes on some other segments like entry tax on hospital equipment, specified land cess for small tea growers, service charge for cinema halls, amusement tax for cable TV owners, canteen stores department and central police canteens.
However, the budget proposed to raise the VAT on bitumen, imported gold ornaments, furnace oil, mobile phones priced more than Rs 5,000 and cigarettes along with some other items.