With an eye on the coming state elections in Gujarat in 2017, the Anandiben Patel government presented a Rs 15,182-crore populist Budget for 2016-17 in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. The Budget shows an overall surplus of Rs 245 crore, with revenue surplus of Rs 3,236 crore. Keeping in mind the proposed reduction in tax revenue of Rs 251 crore, the estimated overall surplus is likely to be Rs 189 crore.
The pro-farmer Budget allocates Rs 85,558 crore for the Annual Development Plan, of which Rs 40,286 crore has been allocated for social services. Meanwhile, irrigation and flood control have been allocated Rs 14,294 crore. The plan size shows an increase of 8% over the previous year.
Bamboo articles, pedal and cycle rickshaws, mosquito nets and ceramic products have been entirely exempted from taxation, providing relief to taxpayers of approximately Rs 171 crore. The burden for generating revenue through taxation will now almost entirely be borne by the affluent sections of society, through the increase in taxes on luxury vehicles, vehicles purchased by institutions, pan masala and industrial salt. E-commerce transactions will also be subjected to Entry Tax, leading to an increase in the tax revenue of Rs 30 crore.
Delivering the Budget proposal, state finance minister Saurabh Patel said that changes in the public distribution system of the state will come into effect from April 1 this year. Over three crore beneficiaries of the system will now get wheat for Rs 2 per kg, while rice will be available for Rs 3 per kg. Farmers in the state will only be charged 1% interest on kharif crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh.