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Slew of welfare schemes for Kerala

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Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac presenting the budget for 2010-11 in the Assembly on Friday.
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac presenting the budget for 2010-11 in the Assembly on Friday.

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has proposed a slew of welfare measures, including rice at Rs.2 a kg to 35 lakh people, in the budget for 2010-11 presented in the Assembly on Friday.

All welfare pensions too are being increased to Rs.300 from the present level of Rs.250 a month.

In what he called a “red and green budget,” he also proposed the setting up of a Rs.1,000-crore fund over the next five years for programmes intended to expand the green cover over the land, restore to health ecosystems (such as Kuttanad) that had deteriorated in the recent decades due to human activities, nourish to resplendence the biodiversity of the countryside and keep a rein on energy consumption and carbon emission.

The third characteristic of the budget is its gender sensitivity. It sets apart Rs.620 crore spread across several departments for programmes meant exclusively for women.

Making decent women's toilets at public places, designating more than 200 police stations “women friendly” and building hostels for working women are some of the measures contemplated under this head.

Rs.3,630 crore deficit

The budget envisages a revenue expenditure of Rs.34,810.37 crore against revenue receipts expected at Rs.31,180.81 crore, leaving a revenue deficit of Rs.3,629.55 crore.

The capital expenditure is estimated to come to Rs.4,135.88 crore in the year. It aims at an additional resource mobilisation of Rs.874.14 crore to support the new programmes. A bulk of this additional resource is expected to come from hard liquor, the duty on which is being hiked by 10 per cent.

Welfare measures announced include an income support scheme (Rs.50 crore allocation) for handloom and handicraft workers, general health insurance with an additional coverage of Rs.70,000 for cancer and heart ailments and kidney problems for the poor and a hike in grant to inmates of orphanages and old age homes.

Fifty per cent of the Rs.1,000-crore fund to be mobilised in five years for the green initiatives is to come from the sale of sand from various reservoirs now being de-silted in the State.

Duty-free sugar import

Imported sugar is being exempted from duty and the tax on handmade soaps and ghee is being brought down to 4 per cent. Luxury tax on hotel rooms will go down by 2.5 per cent.

The tax compounding rates for gold dealers are being revised to 105 per cent, 110 per cent, 115 per cent and 125 per cent for turnover of up to Rs.10 lakh, Rs.40 lakh and Rs.1 crore and above Rs.1 crore respectively.

Cut in stamp duty

The budget also proposes reducing the stamp duty on land registration to 9 per cent in the cities, 8 per cent in the towns and 7 per cent in the villages. The tax on luxury cars (with engine capacity of 1,500 cc and above) is being increased by 2 per cent.

Dr. Isaac provided substantial increases in allocation for sectors such as higher education, IT and traditional sectors including fisheries, coir, cashew and handloom.

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