Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather on Wednesday presented the fifth budget of the present National Conference (NC)-Congress coalition government which was a zero-deficit annual financial statement of Rs.38,068 crore.

The salient features of the 2013-14 budget showed estimated expenditures and receipts of Rs 38,068 crore as compared to revised estimates of Rs.34,311 crore during 2012-13.

The Finance Minister continued with the exemption of value added tax (VAT) on flour and allied products along with rice and paddy.

“Tax concessions (VAT remission) to industry have been extended up to 31.03.2014 or till adoption of new GST regime by our state. Also existing tax exemptions to tourism sector to continue for another year,” the minister said.

The VAT on saffron was reduced to five percent.

Subsidised small tractors, power tiller and other agricultural implements and attachments were exempted from levy of the VAT.

The VAT on cooked food items sold by hotels, restaurants and food joints has been reduced to five percent from 13.5 percent.

Additional resource mobilization would be made from services provided by authorised automobile service stations, property dealers/real estates agents and consultants other than those already included in a service covered by the Jammu and Kashmir General Sales Tax Act.

The VAT on cigarettes has been increased from 30 percent to 40 percent.

While the ruling coalition described it as a “welfare budget”, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti said: “The budget is not anywhere near meeting the aspirations of people and moreover it is just jugglery with the figures.”