`Separate grants required for midday meal scheme'

RAICHUR, AUG. 1. G. Sarangan, economist, has said that a separate grant would be the solution for the effective handling of the midday meal scheme that had not been properly planned in the Union Budget presented recently.

Mr. Sarangan was speaking at a symposium on Union Budget organised by the Raichur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) and the Raichur District Tax Bar Association (RDTBA) here on Saturday.

Welcoming the implementation of the midday meal scheme for school children from first standard to 10 standard, he said that the Union Government had formulated the scheme without any plan.

Mr. Sarangan said that the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, had failed to identify the sources for mobilising funds required to implement the scheme.

There was no mention of how the Government would handle the scheme; it solely depended on the funds collected through the two per cent cess on income tax, he said.

About Rs. 45,000 crores would be required to implement the midday meal scheme, including the educational expenditure incurred on each student, Mr. Sarangan said.

The proposed mobilisation of funds through the cess on income tax would not exceed Rs. 2,500 crores. The two per cent cess would be an additional burden on taxpayers, he added.

Decision appreciated

Appreciating the decision of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government giving the priority to the development of the agricultural sector, Mr. Sarangan said that the Government was going in the right direction as far as development of the rural economy was concerned.

He said that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh had failed to protect the interest of the farmers.Criticising the Union Government's decision to accord a Rs. 30,000 crores special package to Bihar, Mr. Sarangan said he was doubtful about the proper utilisation of the fund by the Bihar Government. It was promised in the Union Budget that the present income resource gap of 3.5 per cent would be reduced to 2.5 per cent, which was not possible when there was a deficit of about Rs. 18,000 crores in the tax resource. On the restriction of income tax limit to Rs. 1 lakh, he said that such a decision would only minimise the income limit under the tax sector. The Budget had failed to provide any clear information on the gift tax, he said.

State Budget

Another Economist, S. Narayana, who spoke on the State Budget, said that the Budget presented by the Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister, Siddaramaiah, had many hurdles. It unnecessarily imposed luxury tax on the use of kalyana mantaps and special wards in hospitals. The Budget failed to give details on the mode of collection of entry tax, he added.

A. Papa Reddy, Raichur MLA; V. Thimma Reddy, president of the RCCI, Ramachandra Prabhu, vice-president; Mylapur N. Murthy, secretary of the RCCI; K.G.S. Sharma, president of the RDTBA; and M.R. Sighvi, secretary, were present.

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