No new taxes in Haryana budget; relief for violence-hit traders

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Chandigarh, March 21 (IANS) Haryana Finance Minister Abhimanyu presented the state’s 2016-17 budget pegged at Rs.88,781 crore in the assembly here on Monday, announcing no new taxes but relief to traders hit by the Jat quota agitation.

The finance minister said relief will be granted in respect of tax, interest, penalty and other dues to registered dealers whose goods were lost or destroyed in violence during the Jat agitation in February.

It is the second budget presented by the first-ever BJP government in Haryana, led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The BJP came to power with a majority of its own in the 90-member assembly in October 2014.

The budget proposed hiked allocations to key sectors like agriculture, power, education and allied sectors and concessions to boost infrastructure, manufacturing and job creation.

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Abhimanyu said the state government’s initiatives for fiscal prudence have helped contain fiscal deficit under 3 percent limit stipulated by the 14th Finance Commission.

“There has been a jump in the state’s own taxes as a percentage of the Gross State Domestic Product from 6.3 percent in 2014-15 to 6.9 percent in 2015-16,” Abhimanyu said.

“More impressive is the fact that this ratio has been showing a declining trend from 2011-12 onwards for four years before this turnaround in 2015-16. In 2016-17, I expect this ratio to be around the same level,” the minister said in the house.

The budget also proposed tax reduction from 12.5 percent to 5 percent on the sale of electrical vehicles and shoes priced above Rs.500.

He said the measures to ensure tight fiscal management and bring in higher transparency and accountability include opening of Personal Ledger Accounts instead of banks accounts by all departments, minimising non-plan expenditure by freezing the amount for contractual engagements and setting up a debt and cash management cell in the state finance department for effective monitoring and management of debt and cash flows.

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“The budget is directed towards the creation of more jobs in agriculture and industrial sectors to reduce rural distress and to ensure adequate job creation in the private sector to meet the expectations of the youth,” he said.

Leaders of the Indian National Lok Dal and the Congress dismissed the budget as “directionless” and having no substance.

“The budget does not fulfil any of the promises made by the Bharatiya Janata Party to the people in its election manifesto for the 2014 assembly polls,” Congress leader Kiran Chaudhary said.

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