Cheaper utensils, costlier spas: AAP's 'Swaraj' budget is aimed at poor, middle class

New Delhi: Striking a careful balance between populism and a reformist image, the AAP government on Thursday presented its maiden budget, significantly enhancing outlay for social sectors and wooing the trading community by proposing to eliminate 'license raj' along with a focus on curbing pollution.

The Rs 41,129 crore budget for 2015-16, presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, is seen to be aimed at AAP's core constituencies of middle class and poor as he did not announce any hike in Value Added Tax (VAT) but raised the luxury and entertainment tax which will mainly pinch the upper class.

 Cheaper utensils, costlier spas: AAPs Swaraj budget is aimed at poor, middle class

Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia after presenting the budget. PTI

As per the tax proposals, utensils made of metal like pressure cookers, furniture and wax items will be cheaper while going to a gym, club and spa and watching movies in multiplexes will be dearer. A monthly entertainment tax of Rs 40 is proposed to be levied on cable TV/DTH services.

Sectors like education, healthcare, transport, water, power saw major jump in allocation while Rs 50 crore has been set aside for providing free wifi facility in colleges and villages, which was a major election promise of AAP.

Steps like installation of CCTV cameras in DTC buses and every classroom in government-run schools were also announced.

Calling it the country's first "Swaraj" budget which was finalised following "extensive dialogue" with the public, Sisodia set aside Rs 19,000 crore as plan outlay while the non-plan expenditure has been estimated at Rs 22,129 crore.

The government allocated Rs 9,836 crore for the education sector of which Rs 4570 crore was given under the plan outlay, an increase of around 106 per cent over the last budget.

In an effort to curb vehicular emission, Sisodia said government will penalise heavy goods diesel vehicles, entering Delhi from other states.

He said polluting trucks of different categories of four, six, 10 and 14 wheeler would be penalised Rs 500, Rs 750, Rs 1,000 and Rs 1500 respectively. A fine of Rs 100 will be levied on polluting tempos.

"I also propose to increase the registration tax by 25 per cent of the existing rate for all categories of private vehicles registered in the name of companies and partnership firms," he said.

Sisodia called the budget tax-free as no increase in VAT has been proposed.

He said efforts are on to ensure a uniform tax regime across northern states to minimise tax arbitrage and eliminate corrupt practices. He said VAT on certain items has been brought down to eliminate ambiguity in tax regime in the region.

Sisodia also announced the establishment of a 'Swaraj fund' and allocated Rs 253 crore towards it.

"The public would decide the expenditure from this fund. This is a unique experiment as public would decide in mohalla sabhas where to spend the money in," he said.

PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 26, 2015 14:48:47 IST