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Delhi Budget focuses on education, health; cuts VAT on several items
April, 01st 2016

The Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Manish Sisodia on Monday presented a ?46,600-crore ‘zero tax’ budget for 2016-17, earmarking a lion’s share for education (23 per cent) and health (16 per cent).

The Aam Aadmi Party-led government also slashed VAT (value added tax) rates to 5 per cent from 12.15 per cent on several items such as garments, textiles, fabric, footwear, e-vehicles, ferrous and non-ferrous metals among others, while extending power subsidy by a year and setting aside ?1,600 crore for it.

17% rise in tax revenues
Presenting the Budget in the Assembly, Sisodia said his government had seen a “historic” growth of 17 per cent in tax revenues, 31 per cent in excise and 21 per cent in stamp duty, mainly due to curbing corruption and reducing wasteful expenditure and “despite constant attempts of the Central Government to destabilise the government’s anti-corruption efforts.”

Terming himself as a ‘faqir’ (an ascetic) who has “everything for everybody” and taking occasional jibes at the Centre, Sisodia said: “The proposed budget of ?46,600 crore will be financed from our tax revenue of ?36,525 crore, non-tax revenue of ?996 crore, capital receipts of ?381 crore, small savings loan of ?3,174 crore, compensation of CST/VAT of ?1,400 crore, Centrally sponsored schemes of ?1,300 crore, normal Central assistance of ?413 crore, share in Central taxes of ?325 crore, other receipts from Government of India of ?432 crore and the remaining amount from the opening balance.”Sisodia said, “Delhiites pay ?1,30,000 in taxes, but the State has been getting only a share of ?325 crore for years.”‘Swaraj Budget’

Setting aside ?325 crore for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s idea of a ‘Swaraj Budget’ to decentralise governance, Sisodia announced programmes to encourage use of public transport, improve road and tourism infrastructure, and safety and security of citizens, especially women.

For the common man, the Budget has set aside ?10 crore on Aam Aadmi canteens for ‘affordable’ food, ensuring ration card portability, 100 new Mohalla Clinics for primary health care and 10,000 additional beds in government hospitals, 8,000 new classrooms in government schools, separate sports and skills universities, as also 100 smart career colleges to be run by private firms.

Provision for water
To reduce dependence on bottled water and purifiers, ?676 crore has been allocated to “provide clean drinking water supply to each and every household by December 2017.”

Proposing ? 2,466 crore of Plan outlay for Housing and Urban Development, including slum rehabilitation, Sisodia said: “We don’t want to develop Delhi as a smart city only for a part of Delhi, or for a special group of people.” He also raised the allocation by ? 1,000 crore for civic bodies, controlled by BJP, urging them to use the funds “properly”.

Despite a slowdown in the real estate sector, Sisodia said there was a 21 per cent rise in stamp duty collection at ? 3,359 crore, and said a separate stamp duty Act was on the anvil.

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