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With Lok Sabha elections apparently weighing on his mind, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today spared the common man of additional tax burden in budget 2014-15.
Presenting his ninth budget in the Assembly, second as the Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah proposed a slew of schemes and reliefs for farmers, minorities, SCs & STs. The budget also gives thrust on infrastructure development in Bangalore.
Siddaramaiah announced that the cap on short-term, interest-free agriculture loans would be raised to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 2 lakh. The three per cent interest rate on farm loans of Rs 3-10 lakh will also continue.
However, coming hard on beer consumers he proposed an increase in additional excise duty on the beverage from 112 per cent to 135. The licence fee of primary distillery, Indian liquor manufacturing distillery and brewery has also been raised by 50 per cent.
Laying thrust on development of minorities, the Chief Minister earmarked Rs 800 crore for the Department of Minorities Welfare, Haj and Wakf.
He also announced that Rs 125 crore would be provided under the Christian Development Scheme for repairs and renovation of churches, community halls, skill development, incentives to students, orphanages and other activities.
A revenue collection target of Rs 37,740 crore is fixed for the current year. For the year 2014-15, the target is fixed at Rs 42,000 crore, he said.
Revenue surplus is estimated at Rs 281 crore. Fiscal deficit is expected to be Rs 20,041 crore-- 2.92 per cent GSDP.
Total liabilities are projected at Rs 1,57,681 crore at the end of 2014-15 was estimated to be 23.01 per cent of GSDP, Siddaramaiah said, asserting that all these fiscal parameters were within the mandate of the Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Siddaramaiah said the budget was based on the foundation of social justice with programmes meant for development of people deprived of opportunities. "Inclusive and all-round development is the basic goal of our budget."
Noting that 70 per cent of the cultivation area is under rainfed agriculture, he announced 'Krishibhagya' scheme covering 45 lakh hectares in 23 districts through conservation, storage and efficient use of rain water, among others.
A total of 53 lakh farmers were expected to benefit from the scheme which would be implemented in a 'mission mode' in a phased manner, he said.
The Chief Minister also increased the incentive given for the inter-caste marriage of SC girls from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
Besides, free laptops will be given to to SC/ST