Skill allowance for unemployed, no new taxes in Himachal budget
Shimla, March 14 : Unemployed educated youth in Himachal Pradesh will get a monthly skill development allowance of Rs.1,000 while no new taxes have been proposed in the Rs.21,767 crore budget for 2013-14 presented by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Thursday.
There was also no proposal for increasing the existing rate of any tax, except on cigarette and 'bidis' for which the rate of value added tax (VAT) is to be doubled.
To woo the youth, the chief minister, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced a skill development allowance of Rs.1,000 to those who have passed Class 12 and above and are unemployed.
Presenting his 16th budget, Virbhadra Singh said the estimated expenditure on salaries is Rs.6,956 crore, pensions Rs.2,839 crore and estimated interest payments would be Rs.2,431 crore.
Loan repayments are expected to be Rs.1,714 crore apart from Rs.342 crore on other loans and Rs.1,721 crore on maintenance, he said.
As per budget estimates, the chief minister in his two-hour long speech, said the total revenue receipts are estimated at Rs.17,700 crore and the total revenue expenditure is estimated to be Rs.17,646 crore, leaving a revenue surplus of Rs.54 crore.
The expected receipts in capital account of the government are Rs.3,540 crore apart from Rs.650 crore in public account, including provident funds.
The capital expenditure, including loan budget estimates repayments, is estimated to be Rs.4,120 crore. The fiscal deficit for 2013-14 is expected to be Rs.2,324 crore which is 2.85 percent of the gross state domestic product.
"As per the budget estimates, against an expenditure of every Rs.100, the state will have Rs.81.31 as total revenue receipts, including transfers from the centre. The gap of Rs.18.69 will have to be met by borrowings," he said.
Out of every Rs.100 of state revenue receipts, Rs.30.35 will accrue from own tax revenues, Rs.13.52 from non-tax revenues, Rs.15.35 from share in central taxes and Rs.40.78 from central grants.
Out of every Rs.100 spent, salaries will account for Rs.31.95, pensions for Rs.13.05, interest payments for Rs.11.17, loan repayments for Rs.7.87 and the remaining Rs.35.96 will be spent on developmental works, the chief minister said.
"To discourage the people from smoking, I propose to increase VAT on cigarettes and cigars from 18 to 36 percent and on 'bidis' from 11 to 22 percent," he said.
He levied nine percent VAT on all types of footwear, combining the two existing rates of five percent and 13.75.
As per the Congress's poll promise, an allowance was started for skill upgradation of the educated unemployed.
"I announce that class 12 and above educated unemployed youth between the age of 25 to 35 who are registered in employment exchange for at least two years and not working anywhere will be given a skill development allowance of Rs.1,000 per month for a period of two years. This allowance will be Rs.1,500 per month for persons with disabilities," he said.
For toppers of classes 10 and 12,5,000 students from each will be provided netbooks/tablets under the Rajiv Gandhi Digital Student Yojna.
To promote tourism, the budget exempts new hotels in the backward panchayats from luxury tax for 10 years.
For attracting investments, the chief minister proposed to set up three new state-of-the-art industrial areas in Una, Solan and Kangra districts.
Clearances for industrial projects to be made time bound and brought under Public Services Guarantee Act, he said.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party described the budget as directionless.
"It's simply based on the achievements of our previous government. It has failed to give any relief to the common man and even betrayed the unemployed," Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal said.