The total estimated expenditure as made out by the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the budget presented to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Friday marks a further increase to the revised budget presented by him in July last. —from Rs 1.21 lakh crores to Rs 1.38 lakh crore and the highlight being the added sops to the farming community. This is a record ninth budget presented by Mr Siddaramaiah, the second after taking charge as Chief Minister.
With elections to the Lok Sabha expected shortly, the Chief Minister has sought to please all sections of the people while marginally raising the excise duty on liquor particularly that of beer and the licence fee on liquor shops. Given a penchant to manage the finances of the State he has worked out several novel ways of additional resource mobilisation including a reduction in the value added tax on liquor (to 5.5 per cent) sold by bars and restaurants operating in the urban areas and clubs, lodging houses and star hotels.
Like his predecessors in the previous Governments of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Siddaramaiah has paid great attention to the welfare of the rural people and in particular the agriculture sector. The ceiling for the interest free agricultural loans has been raised to Rs three lakhs from the earlier Rs two lakhs and farm loans between Rs three lakhs and Rs ten lakhs will be provided at an interest rate of three per cent. This apart, several schemes and incentives have been announced for the benefit of the farming community, the nomadic tribes, the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes apart from the backward classes.
An interesting feature of the budget is that all the proposed tax measure and the reliefs provided in the financial document will be effective from March one unlike in the past when it would be effective from April one of the new financial year. It will therefore be imperative for the Government to table all the money bills at the earliest and obtain the approval of the legislature.
The budget estimates for 2014-15 indicated that the total receipts will be Rs 1,36,249 crores—comprising revenue receipts of Rs 1,11,039 crores and capital receipts of Rs 25,210 crores which includes borrowings of Rs 25,042 crores. The revenue surplus is estimated at Rs 281 crore. It should be noted that the Karnataka budget outlay crossed the Rs one lakh mark for the first time in 2012 when D.V.Sadananda Gowda was the chief Minister of the State. Mr Siddaramaiah has sought a vote on account for the first four months of the financial year, ending July 31. This has been the norm in Karnataka for nearly a decade.