With only eight months left before the Delhi assembly elections, three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit — who is also the finance minister — avoided new taxes in her budget on Wednesday.
The budget size this year is 12% higher at Rs. 37,450 crore. But Dikshit did not announce any new schemes or subsidies. She expanded the scope of the existing schemes for the poor.
“We are trying to lay the foundation for a better tax regime. If the rates are low or are not increased much, people will not evade taxes. Every year, the amount of VAT collected in the state is going up by 19-20%,” the CM told HT.
Dikshit, who will seek fourth consecutive term in November, focused on the social sectors and set aside Rs. 10,600 crore — 65% of the total planned outlay of Rs. 16,000 crore.
The budget included widows and the transgender population in the Annshree Yojana — food security through direct transfer of R600 a month to the female head of the family.
Also, the pension for senior citizens has been raised from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 a month.
Among individual sectors, transport got the largest share of the pie, with the chief minister announcing 1,725 new buses for the commuters, mono-rail for east Delhi and elevated roads for west Delhi.
Dikshit attempted to address the middle class through health and education -- gymnasiums in residential colonies, tobacco cessation clinics in all the 11 districts and seven new hospitals and nine dispensaries.