Guwahati, March 11: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today presented a Rs 1,352.57-crore deficit budget, targeting a growth rate of 8 per cent by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal.
Presenting the 2013-14 budget in the Assam Assembly today, Gogoi said contrary to the practice elsewhere of compressing expenditure to reduce fiscal and revenue deficits, the state was in a comfortable position to add further momentum to developmental activities by providing additional resources.
In line with this, he announced a slew of ambitious development projects for Guwahati that included a Rs 1,800-crore metro rail project and a Rs 1,400-crore sewerage disposal system, apart from a comprehensive drainage project, a plan to restore the Noonmati river basin and a solid waste disposal project ( and G1).
Moreover, while tobacco products, pre-owned commercial vehicles, marble, granite, sanitaryware and bathroom fittings have become costlier, electrical goods, such as CFL bulbs and sockets, have been made cheaper by reducing the VAT rate. Jaggery, a widely used food item, particularly in rural areas of the state, has been exempted from the five per cent tax net. It also provided a boost to tourism by levying luxury tax only on the actual room tariff charged instead of the current practice of taxing the published room tariff. Moreover, to encourage infrastructure development and construction, the tax rate on stone chips and boulders was reduced from 13.5 per cent to five per cent.
The budget estimates for 2013-14 show a receipt of Rs 45,834.55 crore under the consolidated fund, of which Rs 41,284.32 crore is on revenue account and the remaining Rs 4,550.23 crore is under the capital account.
The consolidated fund receipts include state taxes of Rs 8,983.77 crore, non-tax revenue of Rs 3,400.33 crore, share of central taxes of Rs 12,620.75 crore and others Rs 20,829.7 crore, Gogoi said, adding that the aggregate expenditure for the year was estimated at Rs 3,02,002.02 crore, taking into account the expenditure of Rs 2,53,398.39 crore under public accounts and Rs 50 crore under contingency fund.
The chief minister said the state government had been sacrificing a substantial volume of tax revenue on tax exemptions under the current industrial policy of Assam. “The state government has proposed to conduct a study to make a cost benefit analysis of the same and make necessary modifications in the new industrial policy,” he said.
The health and education sectors continued their good run, with Gogoi saying that a special scheme would be launched to bring down infant and maternal mortality rates in the state.
On the environment and forest sector, which has been seeing red of late because of rampant poaching of rhinos, Gogoi said steps would be taken to post more field staff and armed personnel in the state protected forests.
Gogoi also announced continuation of tax concessions for tea exported through the inland container depot at Amingaon by another year.
Though the tea industry was looking at concessions for three more years, the announcement was welcomed, as it will lead to increase in export volume and would encourage exporters to use the facility more often.
He told the house that Assam’s 2013-14 annual plan discussions had not yet taken place and hence the plan size was yet to be finalised. “However, to implement Plan schemes from the beginning of next financial year, I have decided to present a detailed tentative Plan outlay of Rs 10,550.60 crore for 2013-14, which is equal to the revised outlay for the current year. This tentative figure is likely to improve after my discussions with the Planning Commission deputy chairman,” he said.