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Congress presents farmer-friendly budget in Karnataka
Friday July 12, 2013 6:19 PM, IANS

The Congress government in Karnataka Friday taxed liquor, made watching movies in air-conditioned theatres costlier, offered farmers interest- free loan of Rs.200,000 and girl students in first standard Rs.2 a day for attending school.

Presenting a Rs.1,20,717 crore budget for 2013-14 in the assembly, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah allocated over Rs.4,000 crore to upgrading crumbling infrastructure in capital Bangalore, which is also the nation's IT hub.

In view of the increasing crimes against women in the state, he announced that 10 fast-track courts would be set up to try the culprits.

Siddaramaiah estimated total expenditure at Rs.1,21,611 crore - revenue expenditure of Rs. 97,391 crore and capital expenditure of Rs.18,380 crore as well as debt repayment of Rs.5,840 crore.

He said he expects a revenue surplus of Rs.596 crore.

This is Siddaramaiah's eighth budget, though first as chief minister. This is also the Congress government's first budget after returning to power in the state in the May 5 assembly elections, defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party.

His earlier budgets were as finance minister in the Janata Dal government and Congress-Janata Dal-Secular coalition set up. He joined Congress from JD-S in 2007.

The largest allocation in the budget was for education at Rs.18,923 crore followed by energy at Rs.10,312 crore, water resources at Rs.9,363 crore and urban development at Rs.9,286 crore.

While farmers would get interest-free loans of upto Rs.200,000, they would be charged one percent interest for loans between Rs.200,000 and Rs.300,000 from cooperative banks.

The budget enhanced the income limit to be classified as creamy layer from Rs.350,000 to Rs. 450,000, introduced a new scheme called "Manaswini" under which poor unmarried women of 40 years and above and poor divorced women would get a monthly pension of Rs.500.

Transgenders have something to cheer about in the budget as it promised a monthly pension of Rs.500 to them under a scheme named "Mythri".

Siddaramaiah reduced sales tax on diesel from 16.75 percent to 15.65 percent which would bring down the price of the fuel by 51 paise per litre at Bangalore from the present Rs.55.39 per litre.

He raised additional excise duty by 16 percent to 40 percent making liquor costlier.

The chief minister expected his resource mobilisation effort would yield Rs.1,452 crore.

Siddaramaiah also announced that an International Convention Centre would be developed at Devanahalli near the Bangalore International Airport on the city outskirts and providing wi-fi connectivity in M.G. Road and Brigade Road, the two popular commercial centres and youth hangouts in city centre.

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