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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Beer to get costlier in Karnataka as budget rains benefits on farmers, mutts

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy announced a slew of measures for farmers and mutts in the 2019-20 state budget. However, this was at the expense of beer drinkers, who would have to shell out more.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2019 21:24 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy with state ministers DK Shivakumar, MB Patil and DCM G Parameshwara at the start of State Budget Session of Karnataka Assembly, in Bengaluru, Friday.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy with state ministers DK Shivakumar, MB Patil and DCM G Parameshwara at the start of State Budget Session of Karnataka Assembly, in Bengaluru, Friday. (PTI)
         

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy announced a slew of measures for farmers and mutts in the 2019-20 state budget. However, this was at the expense of beer drinkers, who would have to shell out more.

In the second budget of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government, the total size of which was Rs 2.34 lakh crore, the chief minister continued with the rollout of his farm loan waiver scheme, allocating Rs 12,650 crore for it.

He said, with this, the scheme would be completed in the current year.

He had earlier estimated the scheme to cost the exchequer Rs 45,000 crore. However, in the current budget, that estimate has been brought down to about Rs 23,000 crore. Kumaraswamy clarified that the overestimation was caused because the government did not have complete information of the extent of farmer loans.

Apart from this, the chief minister also announced a new scheme called ‘Raitha Siri’, scheme under which Rs 10,000 per hectare would be paid to farmers to encourage them to grow millets, which is targeted to be cultivated on 10,000 hectares.

Another scheme aims to promote paddy cultivation in the coastal and hill regions in the western part of the state. Rs 7,500 per hectare would be provided to “motivate farmers to cultivate paddy under the scheme called ‘Karavali package’”.

Kumaraswamy allocated Rs 1,583.13 crore to animal husbandry, Rs 2,685 crore for welfare of milk producers, and Rs 15,903 crore for irrigation schemes.

“Thus a total Rs 46,853 crore is provided for comprehensive welfare of the farmers,” he said.

This has been done in a year when the agriculture sector is expected to contract by 4.8%, which is the reason the state GSDP is set to grow at 9.6% in 2018-19 against 10.4% in the previous year.

Significantly, in a departure from his predecessor Siddaramaiah, Kumaraswamy has allocated funds for a slew of religious institutions, especially mutts. The chief minister has set aside Rs 110 crore for schemes related to 38 mutts in the state. He has also provided Rs 400 crore for minority communities.

However, the chief minister has hiked the excise duty on draught beer and beer produced at micro breweries. The additional excise duty on beer has been increased from 150% to 175%, on draught beer from 115% to 150%.

Excise on beer manufactured in micro-breweries has been increased to Rs 10 per bottle from Rs 5 earlier, and additional excise has been increased from Rs 12.5 per bottle to Rs 25.

However, the budget presentation was not without incident as the opposition BJP walked out of the house in protest against the chief minister’s decision to provide copies of the speech only after his address was completed, which was a departure from the historical practice of the state.

Political analyst Narendar Pani, who is faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, said the budget showed a clear influence of former prime minister and JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda.

“The thrust is clearly on farmers and on irrigation, with not much attention to industries,” he said.

“It is a significant departure from the budgets of Siddaramaiah, especially with respect to the grants to mutts, and is more in line with the budgets presented by Yeddyurappa,” he said.

First Published: Feb 08, 2019 21:18 IST

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