Delhi government’s ‘thank you’ budget only hikes tobacco tax (Lead)

June 22nd, 2009 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) It was a “thank you” budget from the Congress government to the people of Delhi for voting the party back to power for the third consecutive term. Except for a marked hike in tobacco products, the tax structure remained unchanged, and several new infrastructure projects were unveiled ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010.
The budget was presented by Delhi Finance Minister A.K. Walia in the state assembly.

“The people really deserved a friendly budget. The city government has expressed its gratitude to the people for reposing their faith in the government consecutively for the third time. It will fulfil the expectations of each and every citizen of Delhi,” Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters after the budget was presented.

“We hope that this budget would help in accelerating ongoing projects relating to the Commonwealth Games and further improve the quality of life. Housewives would be very happy as no change has been made in ongoing subsidy in LPG,” she said.

The only increase was on tobacco products, where the value added tax was raised from 12.5 percent to 20 percent. “The Delhi government has enhanced tax only on tobacco with an aim to make it a smoke-free city,” Dikshit added.

According to Walia, the budget was focused more on infrastructure development, transport and social welfare.

“The budget estimates of the total expenditure during the year 2009-10 is Rs.23,043 crore. The budget will have revenue expenditure of Rs.13,703.31 crore and capital expenditure of Rs.9,339.69 crore,” Walia said in his speech.

He said all the 11 corridors of Phase II of Delhi Metro would be completed before October 2010. The construction of flyovers at various places would be completed during this year.

The allocation for improving water supply and sewerage works in each assembly constituency was also hiked from Rs.50 lakhs to Rs.one crore. He said efforts were being taken to boost the capital’s green cover. “The government has developed 16 new city forests during the last two years and eight more new city forests will be developed during the year,” Walia added.

On the Commonwealth Games, the finance minister said: “Most of the projects to be implemented this year are related to 2010 CWG. I am sure that with the completion of all these projects on time our government will not only make an effective contribution towards successful organisation of the games, but also add to assets for the long term benefits of the citizens.”

These projects include construction, renovation and expansion of various stadiums, water treatment and sewage treatment plant at games village among others.

The government also allocated 10.32 percent of the total plan outlay for the education sector.

Walia said the economic slowdown had affected their tax collections. The government is also planning to introduce a new excise policy in the capital.

“Our tax collection has also been affected due to the economic slowdown. However, by making concerted efforts we could collect total tax revenue of Rs.12,180.70 crore in 2008-09 against Rs.11,782.80 crore in the previous year.”

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party called the budget “anti-people” and said there were “several hidden aspects” to it.

“It’s an anti-people, anti-development and anti-poor people budget. There is nothing in the budget for them. It’s a betrayal to the people of Delhi. To avoid a public hue and cry, the government has avoided any new taxes but people of Delhi should expect them very soon,” said Leader of Opposition V.K. Malhotra.

–Indo-Asian News service

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