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Brace for tariff hikes

Delhiites may need to brace themselves for increased water and power tariff hikes as the Sheila Dikshit-led state government presents the budget for 2008-09 on Monday.

delhi Updated: Jun 21, 2009 23:37 IST

Delhiites may need to brace themselves for increased water and power tariff hikes as the Sheila Dikshit-led state government presents the budget for 2008-09 on Monday.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had indicated during the discussion of the Lieutenant-Governor's speech that Delhiites might need to pay the "cost of development".

Value-Added tax rates on some commodities may also be revised.

Finance minister A.K. Walia had presented a vote-on-account of Rs 5,000 crore ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. But he also tabled the proposed budget for 2009-10 to the tune of Rs 23,043 crore.

Dikshit, however, had also said "the government was sensitive to the people's problems.

"A vast chunk of money is required for Commonwealth Games-related projects, infrastructure upgrades in the transport, education and health sectors. The government might not have many options on generating revenue, especially with the Rs 1500 crore revenue deficit," said a government official, requesting anonymity.

The government is expected to spend Rs 9,000 crore on Games-related works alone this year.

The government has a debt of Rs 25,000 crore to pay off. The Assembly is also expected to discuss the rollback of the Rs 200-crore subsidy to power distcoms and the Rs 165 crore subsidy on domestic LPG cylinders.

"The subsidy on low consumption of electricity (150 units in non-peak months and 200 units in peak summer months) is likely to continue. But the government might target higher consumption brackets," said an official.

With the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) incurring a loss of close to Rs 1,200 crore and mounting expenses with the impending 3,800 new low-floor buses before the Commonwealth Games, bus tickets might also get dearer.

There are some suggestions about the consequent unbundling of the Delhi Jal Board that has been running in losses for the last few years.

The government is expected to continue with its focus on education and health care infrastructure. Walia had said earlier his government was committed to spending at least 10 per cent of its budget on education.

Expansion in the health care sector is also expected to be a major highlight with at least 5 new hospitals on the cards.