Kochi

Welfare measures for the poor draw praise

Dr. Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, commended the welfare measures in the budget for the weaker sections and the announcements in healthcare and for non-resident Keralites.

He applauded the announcement to create employment opportunities for over 8 lakh people in various sectors and welcomed the decision to make COVID-19 vaccine available to all for free.

“The health sector has been provided with an allotment of ₹2,341 crore, which underlines the importance the government has placed on this. The health infrastructure has been allotted a massive amount of ₹3,122 crore through KIIFB,” he said, also welcoming the continuation of the Karunya scheme.

“There are many positive steps for helping NRKs, especially those who have returned to the State recently. The assurance of 10% return on investment through the Pravasi Dividend Scheme is highly welcome which will help a large number of NRKs to have an assured income,” he said.

One of the areas which has not received attention from the Finance Minister is the health tourism sector, which has huge potential for generating jobs and revenues for the State, he added.

K. Harikumar, president of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said recommendations by the chamber such as revival of sick MSMEs, promotion of innovation with a larger role for K-DISC, support for status, reduction of VAT on CNG and LNG to 5% and support for the plantation sector found place in the budget proposals.

“The decision to invest ₹50,000 crore for three industrial corridors, with Kochi as one of the major hubs for activities, definitely deserves appreciation,” he said.

“The impetus provided to the start-up sector will boost entrepreneurs. The government’s dedicated Venture Capital fund to support start-ups in their expansion projects will go a long way in generating more jobs and opportunities. The government’s decision to raise the base price of rubber, paddy, and coconut to ₹170, ₹28 and ₹32 respectively indicates its concern for the plantation sector. According to the latest economic review, coconut occupies the largest area with 29.3% coverage followed by rubber with 21.28%. Rice comes third with 7.37% of the total cropped area,” he said.

He also welcomed the decision to withdraw flood cess and not to impose further taxes.

Merchants ignored

However, Kerala Merchants Chamber of Commerce rued that traders were ignored in the budget. Besides giving concession in registration fee of land for industrial purposes, there was nothing else for the business community, chamber president G. Karthikeyan and general secretary K.M. Vipin said.

They said the announcement of huge allocations for welfare projects and more development projects could only be seen as with an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections. Even the demand for a ₹5-lakh health insurance for merchants licensed by local bodies and with an annual turnover of less than ₹40 lakh was not heeded, they said.

FICCI

“Increased allocation of funds and thrust on development of digital economy, knowledge society, innovation society, and start-ups are appreciated,” said Deepak L. Aswani, co-chair, FICCI Kerala State Council.

“Allocation of ₹55,000 crore for three industrial corridors in the State will accelerate infrastructure development. Reduction of State VAT to 5% will be a great boost for LNG-related projects. Reduction of stamp duty and registration to 4% and 1% respectively will be a great boon to real estate and construction industry. Increased allocation of funds for infrastructure and marketing activities of the tourism sector at ₹117 crore and ₹100 crore will be a great help for the tourism sector, which has been severely affected by the pandemic and is now slowly on the revival path,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 5:08:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/welfare-measures-for-the-poor-draw-praise/article33584161.ece

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