Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

Karnataka Budget: No Tax Hike, Rs 1,000 Crore For Mekedatu Project, Autonomy For Temples

In his maiden budget, the Chief Minister who also holds the Finance portfolio said he has attempted for a balanced development of all sections of the society and all regions of the state, at the same time maintaining fiscal discipline.

Basavaraj Bommai, Chief Minister of Karnataka. PTI Photo

No increase in taxes, Rs 1,000 crore for Mekedatu project, doing away with government control over temples are among the highlights of the Budget 2022-23 presented by Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday. In his maiden budget, the Chief Minister who also holds the Finance portfolio said he has attempted for a balanced development of all sections of the society and all regions of the state, at the same time maintaining fiscal discipline.

The Karnataka government that has enacted an anti-cow slaughter legislation, proposed to launch 'Punyakoti Dattu Yojane' to encourage public and the private institutions to adopt cows in goshalas (shelters for cows), by paying Rs 11,000 annually. It has also been proposed to increase the number of goshalas from the present 31 to 100, and Rs 50 crore will be provided in the budget for this purpose. Bommai has proposed doing away with government control over temples in the state by giving autonomy to those coming under the purview of the Endowment department.

"There is a long pending demand to do away with the government control on the temples. By considering these demands of devotees, autonomy will be given to temples coming under the purview of the Endowment department. Necessary legal action will be taken to delegate the discretion of developmental works to the temples," he said. He also said, a subsidy of Rs 5,000 per person will be provided by the government to 30,000 pilgrims undertaking 'Kaashi Yatre' from Karnataka.

With just a year left for the Assembly polls in the state, this is most likely to be the last full-fledged budget ahead of the elections. The total consolidated fund (budget size) has increased from Rs 2,46,207 crore in 2021-22 budget estimates to Rs 2,65,720 crore in 2022-23 budget estimates. This is an increase of Rs 19,513 crore with a growth rate of 7.9 per cent. Of this expenditure, Rs 2,04,587 crore is revenue expenditure, Rs 46,955 crore is capital expenditure. The capital expenditure for the budget estimate 2022-23 is Rs 2,717 crore more than the budget estimate of 2021-22.

In view of the increased expenditure commitments with the available resources a revenue deficit of Rs 14,699 crore is estimated in 2022-23 compared to revenue deficit estimate of Rs 15,134 crore in 2021-22 Budget. The government has budgeted a total borrowings of Rs 72,000 crore for 2022-23. "The economy in 2021-21 is on the road to recovery. In these circumstances, I am not willing to put an extra burden of additional taxes on the common man. Tax collection targets will be achieved by ensuring all the tax departments to perform better," Bommai said. Further, realising the difficulties caused by the second and third wave of COVID-19 pandemic in 2021-22, sales tax on petrol and diesel was reduced in November 2021, because of which the petrol and diesel rates had come down by Rs 7 per litre, he said, "compared to other south Indian states the rates of petrol and diesel are less in Karnataka. I am not intending to increase the rates in 2022-23."

The Chief Minister in the budget has proposed new schemes like diesel subsidy, Milk Producers’ Co-Operative Society,  scheme for deep-sea fishing boats, export promotion by KAPPEC among others, in order to increase the income of farmers, growers and milk producers in the state. Apart from this, farmers will be benefited from re-implementation of Yashaswini scheme (medical facilities to rural farmers), value addition of farm produce and market support, enhanced incentive to sericulture farmers and by implementation of several irrigation projects. Bommai, in his budget speech, expressed his government's commitment for the implementation of the Mekedatu project across river Cauvery, to which neighbouring Tamil Nadu is opposed.

Stating that the Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir and Bengaluru Drinking Water Project will be implemented by getting required clearances from the appropriate authority of central government, Bommai said a grant of Rs Rs 1,000 crore will be provided in the current year for implementation of the project. He said action is being taken to obtain necessary clearances from the competent authorities of central government for utilisation of allocated water to the Kalasa and Banduri Nala diversion projects of the state in accordance with the award of Mahadayi Tribunal. "Grant of Rs 1,000 crore is provided to implement these projects in the current year," he said.

Also, a grant of Rs 5,000 crore will be provided in the current year for implementation of North Karnataka’s ambitious Upper Krishna Project Stage-3 and works related to the project will be taken up by giving priority to land acquisition, rehabilitation and reconstruction works. According to the budget, the government will identify "aspirational taluks" based on development index in sectors like education, health, nutrition and poverty eradication, and concerted efforts will be made for all-round development of these taluks. For this purpose, Rs 3,000 crore is being earmarked. Special focus has been given in this budget for the welfare of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, backward classes and minorities, and women, Bommai said, adding that substantial increase in allocation for education, health and nutrition has been made prospectively by giving emphasis to human resource development.

"Our government has given emphasis to create large scale employment opportunities especially for women. Important priority of this budget is to help women self help groups for working capital, value addition, banking, quality assurance and market, and also encouraging self employment," he said. Emphasis is for development of road, rail and basic infrastructure by attracting investment in the state, employment creation and economic growth, he added. To encourage the use of farm machinery and to reduce fuel expenditure for the first time in the state, diesel subsidy at Rs 250 per acre subject to maximum of five acres will be given through DBT under a new scheme "Raitha Shakti" for which Rs 500 crore has been provided in the budget.

An amount of Rs 500 crore has been provided in the budget for the development of infrastructure in the government schools of the state, and priority will be given for selected aspirational taluks under this grant. The budget also proposes to establish 438 "Namma Clinics" in major cities of the state, also they will be established in all wards of Bengaluru. In these clinics, the services of detection of non-communicable diseases and referral for higher treatment to specialists will be provided. To enable establishment of enterprises, entrepreneurship training will be provided in the prestigious IIM Bengaluru to 300 women graduates of SC/ST communities.

It has also been proposed to develop a multi-purpose ‘Atal Bihari Vajpayee Park’ in an area of 350 acres of government land in Jarakabande area of Yelahanka in Bengaluru on the model of Lalbagh-Cubbon parks. Bengaluru suburban railway project is proposed to be completed by 2026 at an estimated expenditure of Rs 15,267 crore. In this project, four corridors are envisaged to be constructed with a total length of 148 km. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) to take up Phase-3 of the Bengaluru Metro project at an estimated cost of Rs 11,250 crore will be submitted to the Centre for approval. This covers a distance of 45 km.

A greenfield airport will be constructed in Raichur at an expenditure of Rs 186 crore with financial assistance from the District Mineral Fund and Kalyana Karnataka Development Board. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be entered into with the Airports Authority of India. Feasibility report regarding establishing airports in Davangere and Koppal districts will be prepared, Bommai further said, adding that the runway of Mysuru Airport will be extended with assistance from the central government.

With PTI Inputs