The Delhi government on Tuesday passed its budget for the year 2013-14, amid a walkout by opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members who termed it as "anti-people" for not providing any relief on power or water bills.
The Rs 37,450-crore budget, which slashed Value Added Tax (VAT) on several items and focused primarily on social sector programmes besides making considerable allocations for transport and health, was, however, termed as progressive by minister AK Walia.
Chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who also holds the finance portfolio, could not make it to the Assembly on Tuesday, leaving her deputy Walia to initiate the proceedings.
"It is a very forward-looking budget which will spur the rate of development and prosperity in Delhi. It is also the first time that a tax-free budget has been presented," Walia said, pointing to the fact that the government had not levied any new taxes or hiked the rates of the existing ones in its new budget.
He claimed that the government had taken care of the interests of all sections of the society while preparing the budgetary allocations.
Further, refuting allegations of having presented an "election budget", Walia said as much as Rs 16,000 crore had been set aside for planned outlay with another Rs 21,000 crore being reserved for non-planned expenditures.
Moreover, nearly 65% or Rs 10,351 crore of the amount reserved for planned outlay had been allocated as social spending, which sources said was Dikshit's way of wooing the electorate after facing defeat in last year's municipal elections.
According to the budget presented, the transport sector was allocated Rs 3,876 crore followed by Rs 2,490 crore to health, Rs 1,981 crore to education, R1,840 crore to urban development and Rs 1,665 crore to the water department.
"No new taxes have been levied. Instead, keeping in mind the ground realities, we have decided to cut the VAT being levied on a number of items," Walia said.
BJP member VK Malhotra, who is also the leader of opposition, termed the budget as "disappointing" as it had not provided any subsidy on electricity or reduced charges on water.