Pension arrears for coir, cashew workers to be released soon
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finance Minister Vakkom Purushothaman announced in the Assembly on Wenesday a four per cent entry tax on coconut oil.
Replying to the general discussion on the Budget for the coming year, the Minister recalled that he had proposed a four per cent entry tax on coconut and copra in the Budget to help the farmers of the State against fall in prices. The tax was being extended to coconut oil on the advice that tax on coconut and copra alone would not serve the purpose.
Mr. Purushothaman said that six months' pension arrears due to coir and cashew workers would be released immediately. A sum of Rs.3 crores each had been allocated for this, though this was not considered a pension directly payable by the Government.
The Government had cleared all the arrears of welfare pensions payable by it except the arrears of agriculture workers' pension and unemployment assistance. The arrears were being brought down gradually and pensions were being released on the first of every month. Orders had been issued for paying 25 instalments of unemployment assistance this year. The Minister said he was earmarking Rs.1 crore in the next year's Budget as Government contribution to the welfare fund for small traders. Grievance cells were proposed to be set up at the district and State levels to redress complaints of traders.
Government loans to coir, handloom and fisheries cooperatives, he said, would be converted into equity contribution by the Government. This was in view of the working capital shortages faced by the cooperatives.
He said production incentives for Khadi units would be increased by 50 per cent. He was earmarking Rs.3 crores for this in the Budget. An amount of Rs.140 crores had been included in the supplementary demands for grants for the current year for the Wayanad package.
Referring to the allegation made by P.C. George (Kerala Congress-Secular) about granting of bar licences to two hotels at Sreekarayam in Thiruvananthapuram, Mr. Purushothaman said they were granted on the basis of court orders.
On the reference made by Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan to encroachment of beaches in Thiruvananthapuram by hotels, he said the Chief Minister's father-in-law did not own any hotel.
He denied that the Government had suffered a loss of Rs.5,000 crores in terms of tax due from online lotteries. It was impossible to have that kind of tax revenue from lotteries.
He said much of the funding for the Vision 2010 project would be coming from the Centre. He had already earmarked Rs.90 crores for it. The implementation of an insurance scheme for poor families was under way and 16 lakh people had already joined the scheme.