Delhi's chief minister for 12 years, Sheila Dikshit played a different role in the Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday. As finance minster, a portfolio she acquired less than month ago, she presented the state budget. However, she candidly admitted that she just read out the budget speech prepared by her department. "The speech has been prepared by the same government. I have just read it out," she said.
Despite Metro, Delhi cannot meet the transportation demand of the increasing population. "Lot of people still travels by bicycles. Since cycles are healthy and non-polluting mode of transportation, they need encouragement." The government has proposed to remove VAT on bicycles having an MRP of up to R3,500.
On VAT hike
The budget increased VAT on sweetmeat and namkeen to 12.5% from existing 5%. "The government is particularly concerned about growing incidence of lifestyle diseases among citizens. Diabetes and hypertension are some of them. Idea is not too much of tax collection but a social message goes with this."
On social sector
The government has increased scholarship for the minority. "We are trying to address basic issues like health and education by opening new hospitals and spending more on education." We have been realistic in our budget allocation by giving more to health, education and social sector.
Checking price rise
"We have been doing our best to check price rise. Our government took several steps last year - opened 136-137 vends, three vends per Assembly segment to sell atta at R139 per bag." It stabilised prices of essential commodities in the open market. The impact of price rise in Delhi has been the least compared to other cities, she said.
"We have been realistic with our allocation. You may think it has been otherwise but our allocation for higher and technical education has only increased."