With an eye on the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, chief minister Siddaramaiah, who presented his ninth budget on Friday, spared common man the burden of additional taxes.
The chief minister proposed a slew of schemes and relief measures for farmers, minorities, SCs and STs with focus on social justice and infrastructure development in Bangalore. In an attempt to project his government as farmer-friendly, the chief minister announced that the limit for short term interest-free agriculture loans would be raised to Rs3 lakh from Rs2 lakh, while continuing the 3% interest rate on agricultural loans between Rs3 lakh and Rs10 lakh.
He allocated Rs500 crore to Krishibhagya scheme to improve rainfed agriculture. The scheme will be implemented in 23 districts to cover 45 lakh hectares.
The chief minister earmarked Rs800 crore for the department of minorities welfare, Haj and Wakf. He also announced that Rs125 crore would be provided under Christian Development Scheme for repairs and renovation of churches, community halls, skill development, incentives to students, orphanages and other activities.
A revenue collection target of Rs37,740 crore is fixed for the current year and for the year 2014-15, revenue collection target is fixed at Rs42,000 crore, he said. Revenue surplus is estimated at Rs281 crore and fiscal deficit is expected to be Rs20,041 crore, which is 2.92% of the GSDP.
Total liabilities at Rs1,57,681 crore at the end of 2014-15 is estimated to be 23.01%, Siddaramaiah said, asserting that all these fiscal parameters are within the mandate of the Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Claiming that infant mortality rate (IMR) reduced from 41 to 32 for every 1000 live births, and that maternal mortality rate reduced from 178 to 144 for every one lakh live births, the chief minister said a special unit will be set up at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Bangalore on an experimental basis to provide medicines and treatment to patients suffering from rare disease such as haemophilia, thalassaemia, sickle-cell anaemia and primary immuno deficiency.
He also proposed to set up three 250-bed super speciality hospitals in Mysore, Gulbarga and Belgaum to provide quality treatment to patients suffering from critical fatal diseases.
For the movie-buffs
As part of promoting Kannada films, the budget proposes to set up Janatha Cinema Halls at district and taluk head quarters for screening Kannada films.
Water to drink
The budget also proposes to prepare a detailed project report to provide drinking water for 100 villages that were added to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) a few years ago.
Flats and roads
The chief minister said the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) would construct 8,000 flats for allotting to public in 2014-15. He also announced the construction of Peripheral Ring Road at the cost of Rs5,800 crore would be taken up during 2014-15 with assistance from JICA.
The budget also proposes to widen some of the important roads at an estimated cost of Rs300 crore as per the Master Plan 2015.