LDF govt's budget focuses on strengthening tax collection
Thiruvananthapuram, July 8: CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala today presented its budget for 2016-17, focusing on strengthening social welfare schemes, public health and education.
The budget, the first by the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government which came to power in the May assembly polls, also proposed a slew of new tax proposals including five per cent tax on certain packed foods and a 'fat tax' of 14.5 per cent for burgers, pizzas and pastas served in branded restaurants.
Stating that the state was passing through a severe financial crisis due to various factors, the budget proposed an 'anti-slowdown package' of Rs 12,000 crore for taking up various development and infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and IT parks.
The budget, presented by state finance minister T M Thomas Isaac, also said steps would be taken to increase the tax revenue by 25 per cent per annum by various measures including elimination of corruption and implementation of trader-friendly measures.
Steps would be taken to attract Rs one lakh crore investment in various sectors in the next five years, he said. The government is committed to continue various welfare measures for the downtrodden, Isaac said, adding that the budget increased the amount of all welfare pensions to Rs 1,000 and an amount of Rs 1,000 crore has been earmarked for this purpose.
"This enhanced pension from June will be distributed to the beneficiaries along with one month advance," he said. In his three-hour-long speech, the state finance minister said the public distribution system would be expanded by including families of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme workers under free ration scheme, now limited to BPL families.