Rajasthan presents surplus budget ahead of November polls

February 25th, 2008 - 7:17 pm ICT by admin  

Jaipur, Feb 25 (IANS) Ahead of state assembly elections in November, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who also holds the finance portfolio, Monday presented a surplus budget for fiscal 2008-09. “The next year’s revenue surplus would be 3.59 percent of total revenue receipts and revenue deficit would be at 3 percent of the gross state domestic product,” Raje said.

Announcing Rs.1.8-billion surplus budget in the state assembly, Raje spoke for over two hours about various development initiatives.

While presenting her fifth and last budget before the assembly elections, she said that due to prudent taxation and pragmatic fiscal policies, the state was now in better financial health.

The chief minister said that efforts have been made to solve the drinking water problem in the state.

“Since December 2003, over 100,000 hand pumps have been installed in various parts of the state. Over 7,000 tube wells have been built. In all, we spent over Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) on various water projects in the state.”

To provide a thrust to education in the state, the chief minister proposed to launch a “Veenapani Yojna” from fiscal 2008-09, which will provide free textbooks and a school bag to students from the first to the eighth standards.

Raje also announced a “Gyanodya Yojna” through which charitable organisations and private parties would be encouraged to set up senior secondary and secondary schools in collaboration with the state government.

Raje said that to generate more employment opportunities, the government proposed to expand the animation academy presently operational in Jaipur to Jodhpur, Kota, Ajmer and Udaipur.

“Besides this, we plan to open academies in automotive design, draughtsmanship and graphic design in the state on the lines of the animation academy.”

She also announced increase in the minimum daily wages to workers and said the government would come out with a sandstone policy soon.

The chief minister also offered a number of schemes including scholarships for Scheduled Tribes and below poverty line (BPL) students.

She said 30 percent of the posts in the police force would be reserved for women.

Raje, however, imposed a 4 percent tax on vegetables and fruits to discourage big retailers. “This move I feel would bring a relief to small vendors.”

She lowered valued added tax (VAT) on marble and finished Kota stone from the existing 12.5 percent to 4 percent.

Raje also proposed to impose cess on mining, which would be used for development of affected ecologies.

To give a boost to cinema in small towns, Raje proposed to exempt theatres from entertainment tax in towns with populations less than 100,000.

She also announced lowering of entertainment tax from the existing 35 to 30 percent. She, however, proposed to levy a 10 percent tax on direct-to-home broadcasting services.

While increasing taxes on old vehicles from Rs.200 to Rs.500 a year, Raje announced this tax would now be levied on motor vehicles five years old or older.

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