No new tax proposed in Kerala budget

February 20th, 2009 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 20 (IANS) No fresh tax has been proposed in the fourth budget that was presented by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in the assembly Friday.
In what appears to be a populist budget ahead of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, Isaac also announced several sops including providing rice at Rs.2 per kilogram to people living below the poverty line (BPL), a hike in the pension for the weaker sections from Rs.200 to Rs.250, and an additional Rs.100 for those above 65 years in the BPL category.

“The highlight of the budget is that I have announced a Rs.10,000-crore (Rs.100-billion) stimulus package, which will be implemented in two years and this will act as an impetus and one to tackle the ongoing recession,” Isaac said.

The package is aimed at infrastructure projects “which would be ready when the recession is over and would help to attract private investment then”, he said.

Housing loans taken by the weaker sections of the society before 1996 have also been waived; this is expected to benefit over 41,000 families.

Isaac has also extended maternity leave from 135 days to 180, while women undergoing hysterectomy will get 45 days’ leave.

The budget for 2009-10 has a deficit of about Rs.934 crore (Rs.9.34 billion).

After the budget presentation, Isaac told reporters that the government was also considering providing educational loans for engineering students.

The opposition criticised the budget, saying the agriculture sector had been ignored.

“The rubber industry is reeling on account of falling prices. There are no measures to increase agricultural production and productivity. And is this a budget meant to address the economic slowdown,” said former finance minister and senior opposition leader K.M. Mani.

“IT, tourism and the diaspora have been left high and dry,” said Mani, who has presented seven budgets in the past.

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