Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac set off a ripple of laughter in the Assembly during his budget speech on Friday when he mentioned a proposal to exempt certain articles of spiritual significance from tax.

“Rosaries, ‘japa mala,' ‘vibhoothi,' ‘kontha' and robes for holy mass will be exempted from tax,” he said listing out the concessions in his budget. There was laughter and appreciative comments from both sides of the House when he said this.

He also had another proposal intended to wean away consumers of hard liquor from their favourite brands to soft liquor such as beer and wine. While proposing an increase of 10 per cent in the tax on rum, brandy, whisky and similar liquor, he offered a reduction of 10 per cent in the tax on beer and wine.