Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje presented on Tuesday a pro-industry budget focused on attracting investment, creating jobs and taking development to the backward regions, while keeping an eye on managing the fiscal deficit.
Past the mid-way mark of her five-year term, Raje wooed the industry, whose investment is crucial for the government’s plans of a turnaround in the state battling severe drought.
The budget contained a slew of incentives for the industry including start-ups, with tax exemption on several goods and bio-technology as a thrust area for the government in the next year.
The Congress, however, hit out at the government, saying Raje’s third budget lacked direction with nothing for farmers, youth and the poor.
The government set aside Rs 99,693 crore for plan development and pegged the fiscal deficit at 5.62 % of the gross state domestic product for 2016-17.
This was despite revenue deficit of Rs 5,231 crore because of fall in crude oil prices, drop in the state’s share in central taxes and increase in subsidy given to power companies, Raje said.
In her three-hour long speech, Raje, who also holds the finance portfolio, said Rs 40,000 crore was kept for UDAY (Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojna) scheme --- the Centre’s programme to deal with the debt of state run distribution companies.
To create an investor-friendly environment, the government waived entry tax on 14 items and reduced entry tax on 18 items. Nine important items were exempted from entry tax.
Raje announced a reduction in value added tax from 14.5% to 5.5% on all types of plastic goods, pickles, measuring tape, carpets, electric switchgears, SD cards, memory cards, pen drives and health fitness equipments.
VAT exemptions were also given to solar torches, biomass stoves, kerosene lamps, hurricane lanterns, kerosene wick stoves, kerosene pressure stoves, sugarcane, sattu, marble articles costing up to Rs 1,000, sewing needles, safety matches and camphor, among others.
Raje said the tax proposal would result in Rs 300 crore revenue generation while relief worth Rs 325 crore was given.
The CM said the government simplified tax regulations and pushed ease of doing business to create conducive business atmosphere. Tax collection, appeals and refund have been made online.
Those taking loans up to Rs 10 lakh for start-up units will be exempt from stamp duty on loan documents. The government has also set up a Rs10.85 crore corpus under the Start-Up Policy 2015.
To give encouragement to food processing, Raje announced units set up in food parks would get additional subsidy and concessions apart from those mentioned in the Rajasthan Industry Promotion Scheme 2014.
A Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet is planned in November 2016 to attract investment in agri-based industry. Raje said benefits would be given to agri-based industry under the Rajasthan Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing Promotion Policy 2015.
Biotech was announced as a thrust sector and major exemptions were given to it. Those setting up an industry with an investment of Rs 5 crore to Rs 25 crore will get 60% investment subsidy and 10% employment generation subsidy; for investments over Rs25 crore, the subsidy will be 70% and employment generation subsidy will be 10%. These units will get 100% exemption on entry tax on capital goods.
For balanced growth in the state, the budget proposed additional benefits such as electricity fee waiver and interest subsidy to industrial units proposed to be set up in backward and most backward areas.
The budget also made provision for women entrepreneurs. Industrial units set up by women would be given 100% exemption from land use conversion charges. This benefit would also be given to SC/ST and disabled entrepreneurs.