Karnataka budget: Shettar stays away from populist trap

Bangalore, Feb 8: Even with a compulsion of an election handing over his head, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar steered clear of a populist budget. On Friday he presented a five-year report card of the BJP government through his budget without an over-reaching theme and left a bitter taste for those who enjoy their drinks.

Only populist move, if one accuses Shettar of indulging in, could be about rice supplied through the Public Distribution System to families below poverty line and it will be provided at Rs two per kg from 2013-14. The Assembly elections in the state are due in May. Another leaning observed in the budget was the projects concentration in Hubli-Dharwar region, which is Shettar's home. He tabled a Rs 1,17,005 crore budget in the Assembly and it is an increase of 13.88 per cent over the figure of Rs 1,02,742 crore in the previous year.

Jagadish Shettar

Tax hike

On the taxation front, liquor prices will go up and footwear will cost less. The government proposed to revise the 17 slabs of declared prices relating to Indian made liquor by increasing each of them by Rs 40, and double the licence fee collected for transfer of retail liquor licence and bar and restaurant licences from one person to another. Footwear costing up to Rs 200 per pair would be exempted from tax. Tax exemption on paddy, rice, wheat, pulses and products of rice and wheat would be continued for one more year from April this year.

New talukas and new offices

In an apparent move to derive political dividends, the government proposed to create 43 new taluks. These new talukas mean new offices and administrative setups, which open up promotion avenues to the government staff and also bring officials close to the public.

Grants for communities

Trying to stay politically correct, the government would undertake minority welfare programmes with a budget of Rs 415 crore, including scholarship to students belonging to Jain community, and grants for development of Muslim pilgrimage places. The budget also provided over Rs 100 crore grans to various religious maths, mostly from Lingayat community, which has been main support base of the BJP in Karnataka.

Cyber mantra

To maintain the tag e-state, the chief minister announced "one cyber cafe per village" scheme, which would be implemented in every village in the state in a phased manner. He also announced internet connection to all government schools and colleges.

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Something for Bangalore

Acknowledging that Bangalore is a major engine of economic growth of the state contributing an estimated 30 percent of the State's GSDP, Shettar annouced some new projects and reiterated many old infrastructure projects for the city.

The city contributes Rs.1.35 lakh crore to the exports of the country and is the fastest growing city after Delhi. He said Rs 6,203 crore would be provided for the development of Bangalore from government and related organisations and of it Rs.750 crore financial assistance would be provided to BBMP for undertaking 75 major infrastructure development projects approved by the Government.

Some of the new new Initiatives for Bangalore City are :

• One Dialysis and Diabetic centre in each of the Assembly Constituency coming under the jurisdiction of BBMP.

• Public Toilets (especially for ladies) would be established at a cost of Rs. 25 crore in all the wards of BBMP.

• Construction of 25 km long elevated golden quadrangle road at (a) Hebbal-BRV ground (b) Hennur-BRV Ground (c) Central Silk Board - Lalbagh Chickpet upto Mysore Road Fly-over (Sirsi Circle) (d) BRV ground to upto Mysore Road Fly-over (Sirsi Circle).

• For effective waste management in Bangalore city, feasibility of setting up an exclusive agency will be considered.

• To encourage real estate sector the government will issue suitable guidelines to expedite increase of FAR (floor area ratio) on the out skirts of Bangalore.

• Under Megacity revolving fund for the development projects of Bangalore loan assistance of Rs.1133 crore has been approved.

Huge outlay for education sector

Other major highlights of the budget are in education sector: it gets maximum outlay of Rs.15,599 crore, mainly for primary and secondary education. In education cash incentive of Rs. 93.94 Crore will be given to 1.47 lakh SC/ST students who have secured more than 60 percent marks and supply of Akash tablets in future in lieu of cash incentive. To improve quality of teachers the government proposes to revise curriculum and syllabus in D.Ed and B.Ed courses.

In the health sector the government proposes to merge three health insurance schemes for better implementation. These schemes are Yashaswini Arogya Yojane for rural co-operative members, Vajpayee Arogyashree Yojane for poor families and National
Health Insurance Scheme.

Information Technology

Information Technology Sector which provides direct employment to about eight lakh persons and indirect employment to 20 lakh in the state has got very little.

• Rs. 100 crore for New Semi conductor Policy and Information and Communication Technology Policy (ESDM
first of its kind in the Country).

• Starting of 35 Units under rural BPO Scheme in IT Sector in rural areas with an employment potential of 3500

• Computer training to 60,000 - 70,000 un-employed rural youth.

• Indian Information Technology Institute (IIIT) will be set up at Dharwad at a cost of Rs. 128 crore. Information Technology park will be set up in Belgaum.

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