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By a correspondent
Raghav ji's election year budget
Posted: Saturday, 23 Feb 2013 at 7:35 PM
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Every budget is a balancing act. Finance ministers take away with one hand what they give with another. The benefits to the common man, more so the middle class, are largely notional and illusory. 

State finance minister Raghav ji’s tenth straight budgetary exercise for 2013-14 presented in the state assembly on Friday was no different than in previous years except that the outer gloss seemed predictable for an election year. So if he reduced entry tax on cooking gas by 6.47 to two per cent (thereby slashing prices by Rs 20) and cut the prices of toffee, candy, peppermint drops, namkeen, milking machine, mustard oil, oilseeds, pre-fabricated steel structure, barbed wire, electricity meters etc, the loss will more than be made up by the five per cent VAT on liquor and purchase tax on paddy procurement.  Though total tax rebates added up to Rs 170 crore, it’s a moot point how many stand to benefit from the consumption of the above items.

Special attention has been given to agricultural power (round the clock in villages), irrigation, health, education, road, rural development, and other infrastructural facilities, the outlay on each having got a boost of 10-15 per cent. Among other highlights was the decision to raise the allocation for the successful Ladli Laxmi Yojana by Rs 200 crore, and increase in the number of drugs for free distribution in government hospitals from 147 to 454.

A significant detail, again largely notional, was that the size of the budget for the first time exceeded Rs 1 lakh crore (Rs 1,02,447 crore to be precise) with total estimated receipts of Rs Rs 92,019 crore and a projected expenditure of Rs 91, 947 crore. The fiscal deficit for 2013-14 has been put at Rs Rs 12,218.53 crore which works out to 2.98 per cent of GDP, the state FM informed.

Waxing eloquent on the state’s fiscal achievements, Raghav ji said gross domestic product and per capita income had risen fourfold and threefold in the past decade. The rate of average economic growth has hovered around 10 per cent. Also that the state had been successful in attracting investments following transparency in tax administration and industry promotion policies despite tardiness in national industrial growth in the last two years.

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