State Finance Minister Nitin Patel on Wednesday tabled the 2013-14 Budget in Gujarat Vidhan Sabha envisaging increased taxes to net an additional Rs 289 crore, leaving an overall surplus of Rs 840 crore.

Among major tax proposals is an increase in the present rate of electricity duty by 15 paise per unit to make it 55 paise for high and low tension consumers. This additional increase would be borne by a limited number of industrial units.

Presenting the first Budget after the BJP Government, led by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, returned to power for a third time in the December 2012 election, the Minister fully exempted micro-irrigation system equipment, some school stationery items, and agarbatti dust from 5-15 per cent of VAT. He also exempted those earning up to Rs 6,000 per month from paying professional tax.

He proposed to increase VAT on cigarettes from 25 per cent to 30 per cent and impose 1 per cent on sale of second-hand (used) vehicles. Besides, he increased lumpsum entertainment taxes for video houses.

The annual Budget for 2013-14 is of the size of Rs 1,14,450 crore in Gujarat which has had an average annual growth rate of 10 per cent.

The state’s annual development plan has been fixed at Rs 58,500 crore, including Rs 24,586 crore for social services.

With the BJP’s poll promises in mind to provide 15 lakh houses and boost affordable housing sector, the State Government has made a provision of Rs 9,391 crore for urban development and housing, and Rs 6,600 crore to make the cities slum-free by upgrading kutcha houses.

Besides, it has also made provisions of Rs 7,316 crore for roads and buildings, Rs 1,684 crore for ports and transportation, Rs 8,396 crore for energy and petrochemicals departments, among others.

As a mark of tribute to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the State Government has made a provision of Rs 100 crore to build a Statue of Unity, the tallest in the world, near the Sardar Sarovar dam.

To meet the situation due to deficient rainfall in 2013, the Government has envisaged a Rs 10,000 crore for expansion of Narmada water supply in the Saurashtra and other regions.

(This article was published on February 20, 2013)
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