No new taxes in Gujarat budget; focus on education, health

Gandhinagar, Feb 26 () No new taxes were proposedin the Gujarat budget for 2020-21, presented by the BJPgovernment on Wednesday, which saw a healthy allocation of Rs31,955 crore for education, Rs 11,243 crore for health and Rs7,423 crore for the agriculture sector.

The Rs 2,17,287-crore budget for the next fiscal hasan overall surplus estimates of Rs 275 crore.

In the budget presented on the first day of theassembly session, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who alsoholds the finance portfolio, proposed to reduce electricityduty for shops and offices, cold storages, religious placesand dharmshalas, giving benefits of Rs 320 crore to them.

Patel, who presented the budget for the eighth time,did not propose any new taxes.Advertisement

Of the total budget of Rs 2,17,287 crore, as perestimates, the developmental expenditure is expected to be Rs1,33,283 crore and non-developmental expenditure at Rs 80,400crore.

The size of the budget for the next fiscal indicatesan increase of Rs 12,472 crore over the last one.

Patel, while presenting the budget, told the Housethat special focus has been placed on health, education, watermanagement, animal husbandry, rural and urban development,agriculture and overall social development.

Patel allocated Rs 7,423 crore for the agriculturesector and Rs 31,955 crore for the education department.

To encourage cow urine and manure-based farming, acultivator shifting to such agriculture methods will be givenan assistance of Rs 10,800 per year to rear cows, he said.Patel made a provision of Rs 50 crore to cover around50,000 farmers under this scheme.Advertisement

To improve primary education scenario, Patel said thegovernment will construct 7,000 new rooms in state-run schoolswith an estimated cost of Rs 650 crore.

On the higher education front, Patel said a provisionof Rs 7 crore has been made to start a School of DefenceStudies at the Gujarat University in collaboration with theDRDO.

Similarly, a sum of Rs 12 crore has been allocated toIITRAM (Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research andManagement) to start Department of Advance Defence Technologyin collaboration with the DRDO.Advertisement

Patel alloted Rs 11,243 crore for the health andfamily welfare department.

While Rs 450 crore has been allotted for the AyushmanBharat Yojna (a Centre-sponsored health scheme), Patel said Rs27 crore will be spent for purchasing 150 new ambulances.

Announcing a provision of Rs 3,150 crore for the womenand child development department, Patel said 'Rann Anganwadis'(child care centres) will be opened in desert areas for thechildren of 1,500 saltpan worker families.Advertisement

He also added that 'mini anganwadis' will be opened incentral jails in major cities.

To encourage Gujarati diaspora donors wanting to dosomething for their native places, Patel announced a newscheme called 'Madre Vatan'.

Under this scheme, the government will contribute amatching amount of donation given by such donors fordeveloping various facilities such as schools, anganwadicentres, roads, water tanks and ponds.Advertisement

For making Gujarat plastic-free, Patel announced a newscheme wherein rag pickers collecting dry waste and plastictrash will be given financial assistance.

Patel said the world's largest hybrid energy park iscoming up at Kutch district. It has capacity to generate25,000 megawatt of electricity per year at one place byharnessing solar and wind energy.To add some more tourist attractions near the Statueof Unity at Kevadiya and nearby areas in Narmada district, aprovision of Rs 387 crore has been made in the budget.Advertisement

Patel proposed a reduction in electricity duty onshops and offices. From the present 25 per cent, Patelproposed 20 per cent levy.

While this relief will benefit 30 lakh people, thestate will have to forgo revenue of Rs 320 crore every year.

The finance minister also proposed to reduceelectricity duty levied on religious places and dharmshalas.Advertisement

He proposed to reduce electricity duty on religiousplaces from 25 per cent to 7.5 per cent for rural areas and to15 per cent for urban areas.

For dharmshalas, which currently pay 25 per cent duty,Patel proposed to slash it to 15 per cent for high-tensionconnections and 10 per cent for low-tension connections. PJT PDRSY RSY

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