Thiruvananthapuram: The new Congress-led UDF government’s first budget in Kerala on Friday spared the common man of any harsh impost but sought to mop up Rs 600 crore through state lottery and higher levy on liquor and luxury cars.
Increased levies on pan masala and buildings above 4,000 square feet have also been proposed in the budget which blamed previous CPI-M-led LDF regime for pushing the state into “deep financial trouble”.
Finance minister K M Mani gave thrust to social security and infrastructure development as envisioned by the UDF which came to power on 18 May voting out the CPI(M)-led LDF by a wafer thin margin of four seats in the 140-member assembly.
The budget increased all social security and workers pensions from Rs 300 to 400 and introduced a pension of Rs 3,600 a year for small and marginal farmers.
A major health insurance scheme titled ‘Rajiv Arogaya Sree´ was proposed for the BPL sections whose premium would be borne by the state. The scheme would be open for Above Poverty Line (APL) sections with the beneficiaries paying the premium.
In a relief to all sections, the registration fee for partition deeds of family properties had been fixed at the rate of Rs 1000, doing away with the value-based fee system.
Presented close on the heels of unearthing of the priceless treasure of the Padmanabhaswamy temple, the budget made a token allocation of Rs 1 crore for stepping up the security of the shrine managed by the erstwhile Travancore royal family.
It also set apart an initial amount of Rs 5 crore for building a new dam at Mullaperiyar in place of the present one, over which the state is having differences with neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
The LDF dubbed the budget as a routine exercise devoid of concrete programmes for the state’s progress.