State’s drought budget turns the heat on you | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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State’s drought budget turns the heat on you

mumbai Updated: Mar 21, 2013 01:09 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
ajit pawar

From the rent you pay to the coffee and beer you drink, it’s all going to cost more from next month. The state budget presented by finance minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday has little for you in terms of development, but is bound to pinch your pocket.

Pawar introduced tax proposals that will hike the prices of various goods including sugar, gold jewellery, cigarettes, alcohol, cosmetics, and non-alcoholic beverages to mop up Rs. 1,150 crore for drought relief.

Tenants have been dealt a twin blow with a 0.25% hike in stamp duty on the rent paya-ble, and another 0.25% on 10% of the refundable deposit, which amount is calculated as the annual interest that accr-ues on it. In high-value deals, the total duty thus payable can rise by as much as 500%.

Water-intensive sugarcane cultivation has been penalised with a hike in the purchase tax per kilogram from 50p to Re1. The levy on gold, silver and diamond jewellery is up by 0.10%.

These two taxes have been introduced for drought relief and will be levied for only one year.

The excise duty has also been hiked for strong beer, Indian made foreign liquor and country liquor.

The minimum levy on IMFL has been raised to Rs. 300 per proof litre from Rs. 240. However, premium brands will not be affected as they are already paying more.

For strong beer, the excise duty is now Rs. 60 per bulk litre or 200% of the manufacturing cost, whichever is higher. This means a bottle of beer priced at Rs. 100 will now cost Rs. 115.

The good news is that the budget has not taxed diet staples such as wheat, pulses and rice.

Apart from taxation, the budget for 2013-14 tries to maintain the status quo. Caught between drought and economic slowdown, Pawar has shied away from announcing anything new and has focussed on core sectors such as water resources and agriculture.

“It has been a tightrope walk to ensure development expenditure is not cut and yet meet the demands of drought mitigation. Our efforts have been not to burden the poor and middle classes with too many taxes,” said Pawar.

But he did ask people to have a big heart as there is a serious drought in their backyard.

His critics have, however, slammed the budget as lacklustre.