Presenting her government’s 15th consecutive budget and the third since she took charge of the finance ministry, chief minister Sheila Dikshit did not burden Delhiites with more taxes in an election year.
She claimed the idea was to improve collection of existing taxes. Excerpts from an interview:
You did not announce any new taxes in the budget. Was that done with an eye on the upcoming polls?
We want to lay the foundation for a better tax collection system. Even in the last few budgets, we scaled down all our taxes. If taxes are low or not increased much, people won’t evade them.
The idea is to better tax collection. Every year, VAT collection is going up by 19 -20%. This year saw an increase of 20%
The budget was more like a statement of accounts with no new schemes announced.
It is not that we have not announced new schemes. We are going to consolidate our existing schemes. Annshree is being extended to widows apart from pensioners. We are raising a corpus fund of Rs.5 crore for journalists.
There is a lot of work going on in unauthorised colonies. We are building training institute and a technical university for women. We have tried to make Delhi a world-class city.
By simplifying taxation and VAT, are you trying to woo the traders, who are the support base of the BJP?
Traders are also the citizens of the city and many of them vote for us. Many of our MLAs are traders. They are happy (with our work).
Nothing much in the budget is aimed at the safety of women.
We are also providing self-defence training services in schools. Guards have been provided in DTC buses.
Actions do not always entail funds. We are trying to provide equitable opportunities for everyone.