The trade and industry was sceptical of the Kerala budget proposal to impose a 1 per cent flood cess on items under the 12, 18 and 28 per cent GST slab.

V Venugopal, president of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the move could have an adverse impact on industries and also prove burdensome to the common man. At the same time, the Chamber expressed happiness on State's GDP growth at 7.18 per cent during the last year based on the Economic Review, compared with 6.22 per cent in the previous year.

Focus on infra

According to Venugopal, the budget seeks to provide an impetus to infrastructure development by various allocations for the construction of roads, railways, electricity etc. A 515 km high-speed rail track between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod costing ₹55,000 crore is an ambitious project. The focus on the promotion of electric buses by the KSRTC and the tax exemptions to electric vehicles is a positive development.

Agriculture too finds a place with the government proposing a CIAL model company to be set up for revival of the rubber sector and allocations for rubber sector schemes. Initiatives to double the income of farmers in Wayanad and the ₹2,500 crore allocation for farming sector are commendable. The decision to set three rice parks and to establish the Kochi-Coimbatore industrial corridor, special assistance for the cashew sector are welcome, he said.

‘Positive budget’

CII-Kerala called it a budget tailormade to recover the State after the devastating floods. S Sajikumar, Chairman, CII-Kerala said the government has come up with a positive budget for business and industry with a focus on infrastructure targeting industrial development.

The proposal to give emphasis to enhance revenue through tax administration is a good step and the need of the hour. The tourism sector has been facing downtrend recently and the budget has come up with some course correction. The intention to transform Kerala into a Knowledge Centre of Excellence is praiseworthy with its objective of elevating educational institutions in the State to international standards, he added.

‘Burden on traders’

Deepak L Aswani, Co-Chair, FICCI Kerala State Council termed the decision to impose 1 per cent cess on GST slabs as the biggest setback of the budget which will be a huge burden on traders. Retailers who are all working on thin margin will find their margins eroding to large extent.

People of Kerala had suffered considerably due to floods and imposing an additional burden for two years in terms flood rehabilitation cess is not in good taste. Instead the Government should initiate measures to increase the GST revenue by encouraging more GST return and creating GST compliance culture among traders and consumers at large rather than penalizing the entire people.

The government should come out new schemes to attract investments and make the State more industry and trade friendly, he added.