With polls in mind, Delhi budget will have no new taxes

February 24th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by admin  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) With elections due in November, the Delhi government is planning to toe the populist line by not proposing any fresh taxes in its forthcoming budget, expecting the central government to subsidise the expenditure on infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games. “There will be no fresh taxes in the budget,” a senior official in the state government told IANS. State Finance Minister A.K. Walia is to present the budget for 2008-09 on March 24.

However, the budget will enhance spending on infrastructure ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

“The budget will have a lot on offer for the city’s overall development. This is also in accordance to the directions given by the chief minister (Sheila Dikshit),” the official said requesting anonymity.

“Let us not forget that this is an election year for the state. Some populism measures will be on the cards,” the official said, adding that the state government had sought Rs.90 billion from the Planning Commission for the coming fiscal to meet the expenses for the Commonwealth Games.

Sources said Dikshit had assured the ruling Congress party’s state unit chief, J.P. Aggarwal, that her government would not levy new taxes in the election year.

Earlier, Aggarwal had expressed his unhappiness over approval given to a proposal to hike the taxes for pets. The municipal bill had a provision to levy Rs.500 on dog and cat owners annually, much higher than the Rs.12 and Rs.24. The amended bill also proposed taxes for buffalo and cow owners.

Civic authorities had last month turned down the proposal.

“I had written to the chief minister following the public outburst on hiking taxes for pets. She gave a positive response,” Aggarwal told IANS.

“I expect no new taxes in the budget and more funds for development. The government has been doing a fine job since day one,” he said.

The Congress party has been in power for the past 10 years though it lost the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year.

The budget will also focus on health, education, tourism and facilities for senior citizens.

The city government intends to spend Rs.13 billion on urban development since the infrastructure needs to be upgraded ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Medical infrastructure is likely to get Rs.8.2 billion, while the housing sector stands to gain Rs.1.8 billion. Basic health facilities including the procurement of equipment in the government hospitals would get Rs.509 million, officials said.

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