Initiating the discussion on the Delhi Budget 2010-11, former Delhi Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi on Tuesday charged that Delhiites have been unnecessarily burdened with taxes because of the Delhi Government's wasteful expenditure and poor financial management and demanded a rollback of the hike in VAT on CNG and diesel. He also demanded restoration of the subsidy on LPG cylinders that has been withdrawn.

Charging that the Budget was against the interests of the poor, common man, farmer and growth, Prof. Mukhi said it was prepared without consultations with or even constitution of a Planning Board by the Planning Department. Pointing out that growth was related to Plan expenditure, the BJP leader claimed that the Budget was anti-growth as the Plan outlay had actually declined over the previous year by Rs.100 crore. “Add about 7 per cent inflation to it and the Plan size comes down by about Rs.300 crore,” he said.

Expressing concern over the rising fiscal deficit, he said while the Delhi Government earlier used to pride itself on revenue surplus that has declined drastically from over Rs.4,000 crore till some years ago to a few hundred crore rupees now. The Central assistance to Delhi has also declined from Rs.2,487.53 crore to Rs.1,283.70 crore, he added.

The BJP leader said the Government had ignored important areas like agriculture in the Budget and had in fact increased VAT on fertilisers, pesticides, tractor tyres and many other such articles which would burden the farmer. Likewise, the funds for youth and sports have come down from Rs.245 crore to Rs.144 crore, for housing from Rs.160 crore to Rs.110 crore and for urban development by Rs.63 crore.

Stating that kerosene, tea, LPG, lanterns and utensils were all used by the poor, he criticised the hike in VAT on them. As for diesel, Prof. Mukhi cautioned that the proposed hike would make Delhi lose money to the neighbouring State. “If we had to save money, we could have constructed a simple bridge at Wazirabad for around Rs.600 crore instead of constructing the Rs.1,135 crore Signature Bridge,” he said.

Four-time MLA Mukesh Sharma of the Congress, initiating the discussion on behalf of his party, suggested a rollback of the higher VAT on diesel, CNG and other articles such as tea and inverters. He also called for a Rs.15 relaxation in LPG price so that it does not exceed the rate charged by Haryana.

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