The State budget for 2013-14 seeks to rest itself on welfare, green and sustainability themes and projects a deficit of Rs 526.57 crore (-Rs 289.25 crore last year).
The record 11th budget presented on Friday by octogenarian K.M. Mani proposed additional resource mobilisation of Rs 1138.33 crore after budgeting for fresh expenditure of Rs 1400.58 crore.
The major giveaway was two per cent reduction in stamp duty, coming as it did in the wake of notification of fair value in the State.
The heads of registration and stamp duty and commercial taxes witnessed maximum tweaks as applicable under various heads, including Kerala Partnership (Registration of Firms) Rules. These will be revised and updated, the Finance Minister said.
A service charge of Rs 500 is proposed to be imposed on each case of registration for issue of digitised certificates. Fees payable for registration of chit funds will also be revised and updated.
Stamp duty with respect to for transfer of share certificates; registration of articles of association or partnerships and their subsequent nullification have been revised.
The Finance Minister targeted ‘objectionable trends’ in the real estate sector by proposing to double the duty payable on second sale of a property within three months of registration.
A concession of 50 per cent in the duty has been announced for sales of plots and residential flats registered by Kerala State Housing Board.
These proposals are expected to generate additional mobilisation of Rs 200 crore; but the Finance Minister said this would be neutralised by concessions proposed alongside.
Given Goods and Services Tax is closer than ever to a rollout, the Finance Minister said that unification of rates with respect to mainly luxury items, vehicles, white goods and other consumer goods is called for.
Neighbouring States have gone ahead and revised upwards the tax rates from 13.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent. Mani said Kerala needs to follow suit and proposed hiking the rate to 14.5 per cent.
But he sought to totally exempt essential items including rice from the levy, which he said was a follow-up of measures announced for the welfare of the common man his last budget.
He estimated to net Rs 650 crore in additional resources from these tax proposals.
Cigarettes and other items of tobacco (except beedis) will now attract an enhanced 20 per cent tax (revised up from 15 per cent), which is expected to raise Rs 120 crore.
Similarly, tax on Indian-made foreign liquor has been revised up by five percentage points to 105 per cent. This is estimated to bring in Rs 250 crore in fresh mobilisations.
The finance minister sought to raise rates on paper lottery draws to Rs 30 lakh for conventional draws (Rs 25 lakh) and Rs 60 lakh for bumper draws (Rs 50 lakh). This will fetch Rs 16 crore in incremental revenue.
A major exemption announced pertained to sales tax of two per cent for cardamom sales contracted through auction centres recognised by the Spices Board.
The finance minister announced that he would constitute a committee to study the issue of rationalisation of sales tax of other spices vis-à-vis other States.