PUDUCHERRY: Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, who also holds the Finance portfolio, on Monday presented a `6,665-crore budget for the Union Territory on Monday, giving priority to Swachh Bharat, road safety, quality education, health care, skill development, employment generation, promotion of sustainable tourism, industrial development and inclusive and equitable development.
He announced Value Added Tax (VAT) exemptions on Swachh Bharat equipment sold to local bodies and Public Works Department. Besides, he proposed VAT reduction for sanitary napkins from 14.5 per cent to 2 per cent. On the welfare front, the pension for freedom fighters would be enhanced from `7,000 to `8,000 per month. The Peruntalaivar Kamarajar Financial Assistance scheme would be extended to PhD students. Weavers and cooperative societies would get assistance to modernize their pit looms and frame looms.
However, for additional revenue generation, the government has decided to impose a levy called “Institutional Infrastructure Development fee” on colleges, educational institutions, hospitals, production units and others for use of public utilities like roads, drainage, power and water conveyance system, solid waste disposal. Other proposals included fresh licences for Indian-made foreign liquor retail units, equivalent to the number of arrack shops being closed every year in a phased manner.
In a bid to augment excise revenue, the government has proposed to be an intermediate regulatory agency between the manufacturer and FL1 licences without causing any displacement of the existing licences and without undermining their vending rights. The VAT on petrol and diesel would be rationalised to address the severe impact on revenue collection. It has been proposed to reduce the existing value of Guideline Land Rates (GLR) by 25 per cent for the year 2016-2017 to garner revenue through increased volume of sales.
The government would start afternoon shift Out Patient Department (OPDs) in all Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in phases by appointing contract doctors and part-time paramedical staff.
The government is formulating a new industrial policy and has agreed in “in principle” to convert the lease hold on plots and land into freehold one with specific schemes.
A comprehensive tourism policy would be in place for next five years. With Central assistance of `85.28 crore under Swadesh Darshan schemes, seven Beaches in Puducherry at Kalapet, Dubrayanpet, Arikamedu, Chinna Veerampattinam, Chunnambarm, Narambai and Manapet would be developed along with restoration of Heritage buildings located in White Town.
On the law and order front, the Safe City Project was proposed with an estimated cost of `50.75 crore to strengthen and modernise the police force.
In order to achieve open-defecation free status, the government has proposed to construct 6,000 household toilets under Swachh Bharat scheme. The MLA local area development fund would be enhanced from `1 crore to `2 crore.