Most industry representatives said the State Budget for 2013-14 presented by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah offered very little to industry. They were disappointed that the current rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) would continue. However, they appreciated the surplus in the Budget.

Mohammed Ameen, president of the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said that overall it was a populist Budget. The Rs. 800 crore for industry and commerce is a very small part of the entire Budget, he noted. The focus is not on industry, and a lot of importance is given to agriculture, he added. The extra 0.5 per cent VAT still continues, which is “really bad”, because Karnataka cannot compete with other States.

Mr. Ameen said, “Being a coastal region, we were asking for a maritime boardbut there was absolutely no mention of that…We were also looking forward to something on coastal tourism.” However, he said the proposal to build a fishing harbour at Kulai is good. “One good point is that Mr. Siddaramaiah’s Budget is surplus. But on the whole, we are a little worse than before,” he said.

B. A. Nazeer, president, Canara Plastic Manufacturers & Traders Association (CPMA), said the Budget has not met the expectations of the small scale industry (SSI). The SSI should have been treated on par with agriculture as it generates employment and contributes to the export sector, he said. CPMA also urged the State government to completely abolish trade license for SSIs, which have been registered with more than 25 government departments. The traders were promised in the last Budget that the 0.5 per cent VAT rate hike would be rolled back to earlier levels, Mr. Nazeer said.

G. G. Giridhar Prabhu, former president of KCCI, also concurred. “[The additional 0.5 per cent VAT] will continue to burden people who want to buy consumer goods. The government is benefiting from both the higher prices and the VAT. It would have helped if the burden had been lessened.”

Prashanth Baliga, secretary of the Udupi District Small Industries Association also agreed that the Budget was “populist and non-productive”. The Budget had nothing for the development of small and medium enterprises sector, which contributed in a major way to the Gross Domestic Product of the State, he said. The Budget proposed no new industrial areas, infrastructure development or power sector projects. This Budget would create more unemployment, Mr. Baliga said.

Mr. Nazeer said that while funds for infrastructural improvement in industrial areas is a right step, Rs.30 crore is insufficient. The CPMA urged the State government to set up a committee to explore the possibility of utilising plastic waste in road construction as done in Tamil Nadu.

Ramaraj Duraiswamy, Chief Technology Officer, Invenger Technologies Pvt. Ltd., said the pilot project to provide Wi-Fi services to the public is a good move. It should be implemented in places like inter-city bus stand, railway station and airport, he said.

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