New power subsidies for farmers

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 23, 2013 08:13 hrs
Farmers carry wheat crop in a field at Bhadari village

A cut in tax on cooking gas and various new subsidies to farmers were among the highlights of the Madhya Pradesh government’s Budget proposals for 2013-14, presented in the Legislative Assembly on Friday. The government’s five-year tenure comes to an end late this year.

Finance Minister Raghavji, who has held the portfolio since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in late 2003, presented spending proposals for Rs 91,946 crore, a fiscal deficit almost touching the prescribed limit of three per cent of gross state domestic product; it amounts to 2.98 per cent. About Rs 54,000 crore of the spending would be non-Plan. Revenue receipts, estimated at Rs 79,603 crore for 2013-14, are about Rs 5,210 crore more than the estimated revenue expenditure. The rest of the spending will be met by borrowing.

“Unlike the (Congress-run) Central government, our fiscal deficit is well within the norms of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act,” said the 79-year-old finance minister.

He said he had cut the entry tax on cooking gas from 6.47 per cent to two per cent, translating to Rs 20-45 less for each cylinder, otherwise priced the highest among all states. New subsidies to farmers will cost Rs 2,100 crore. About Rs 1,700 crore of this is for a flat and subsidised charge of Rs 1,200 per horse power (Hp) for all irrigation pump consumption by farmers; those from scheduled castes or tribes will get free power up to five Hp consumption for irrigation. Value-added tax on rent of electricity meters has been waived, as also the tax on rotavators for agriculture.

Raghavji also pared the tax on automobile components from 13 per cent to eight per cent; it was he who had at one point raised it from four to 13 per cent, ignoring the protests of auto component makers.

Other announcements included a tax cut on pre-fabricated steel structures, milking machines, oxygen cylinders, naphtha, barbed wire, chain links, emulsified bitumen, sand-crushed stones and, among the indulgences, on toffees and lozenges, too. “This would put an additional burden of Rs 170 crore,” said the minister.

There’s a new purchase tax on paddy, on the lines of one already imposed on wheat. “We have decided to impose the tax to generate some revenue. This would contribute Rs 170 crore,” he said. Also proposed is a five per cent value-added tax on both country liquor and Indian Made Foreign Liquor, meant to bring Rs 120 crore.

He said he’d turned down the demand to cut the tax on petroleum products but assured, “ We will see if (their) prices go much higher.”

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