Andhra Pradesh’s main opposition YSR Congress party said on Wednesday it was disappointed after the budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley did not mention the special financial package announced by the Centre.
The Centre assured a special category status to the state during the passage of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act in February 2014. The Narendra Modi-led government, however, backtracked on its promise on technical grounds and instead, announced a special financial package last year.
Many hoped the allocations would be announced in the budget this year.
“We were looking forward to allocations for the special package in the budget, without which it doesn’t mean anything,” YSR Congress MP V Vijay Sai Reddy said.
The only mention Jaitley made about Andhra Pradesh in the budget was an exemption of capital gains tax on the “first sale” of plots allotted to farmers in the new capital region of Amaravati by the state government in return to the agriculture land they had surrendered under the land pooling system for constructions of the new capital.
Under the land pooling system, the AP government acquired nearly 33,000 acre from farmers. In return, each farmer was allotted a residential plot of 1,000 square yards and a commercial plot ranging from 250 to 450 square yards.
The government assured that the cost of the plots would go up manifold with the construction of the new capital.
Since the sale of residential and commercial plots would invite capital gains tax, the farmers were worried that they might have to pay a heavy tax in case they wanted to make money by selling their plots.
During Jaitley’s recent visit to Vijayawada, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu took up the issue with him and he agreed to consider it.
“This will benefit 24,000 farmers who gave away their land voluntarily to the government for the capital. The entire credit goes to Naidu,” state agriculture minister Prattipati Pulla Rao said.
However, YSR Congress described it as yet another attempt to fool the farmers of Amaravati, who it says were coerced to surrender their lands for the capital.
“It is primarily an agriculture land and as such, any transaction of agriculture land is exempt from capital gains tax. This is being projected as a big boon to farmers. It is nothing but cheating,” party legislator Reddy alleged.
The creation of a separate railway zone for Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada was another major promise made by the Centre while announcing the special financial package.
“There is absolutely no mention of it in the budget,” Reddy said.
The only other promise fulfilled as part of the AP Reorganisation Act was the allocation of Rs 7 crore to the central university proposed to be set up at Anantapur in Rayalaseema region.