Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje unveiled a “working budget” on Monday, dishing out incentives to industry to spur growth while trying to lessen the burden on farmers in a balancing act between pragmatism and politics.
Raje, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented the state’s budget for 2015-16 in the assembly with a plan outlay of Rs. 71,405.78 crore.
The thrust of the budget was on inviting investments to kickstart industrialisation which would, in turn, generate employment.
Raje also promised improved infrastructure, ‘ease of doing business’, tax reforms, skill development and encouraging the MSME sector, some of the thrust areas of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.
“This is a budget influenced not by rajniti but raj dharma,” Raje said during her budget speech that lasted over two-anda-half hours.
She added that her budget was aimed at sustainable, inclusive growth with priority sector identification for economic progress and prosperity.
To attract investments, the government will organise a resurgent Rajasthan programme in November this year, Raje said, adding that government was preparing a land bank to offer to industry. She said the state government wanted to promote a ‘make in Rajasthan’ policy on the lines of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ scheme.
For the farming community, the state’s largest population group, Raje promised tariff subsidy on agriculture connections, ensure adequate fertilizer and also set aside Rs. 370 crore for providing zero-interest loans through cooperative banks.
The chief minister, however, hiked vat on mobiles, two-wheelers and taxi services.
On the other hand, she removed entry tax on 14 items including hand pumps, salt and marble cutting tools and diamond bits, the last two items in great demand in the marble industry, one of the state’s main revenue earners.
She also proposed to reduce entry tax on industrial fuels, electrical and electronic goods, TV washing machines, microwaves, computer and accessories, all of which will get cheaper, clearly aiming to keep her urban voters happy.
The industry welcomed the budget and tax proposals, saying Raje was creating a “conducive environment” to woo investors.
The opposition Congress, which boycotted Raje’s speech, dubbed the budget “lacklustre” saying it had no focus on improving the living standards of the common man.