Karnataka’s high slab of value-added tax (VAT) at 14.5 per cent, the highest among the southern states, is likely to be slashed by Chief Minister Siddadramaiah in the upcoming Budget.
An official source told Express: “The CM had opposed this high tax slab during the Budget discussions in February, when he was the Opposition leader. He had insisted that it was too high, so he is likely to slash it now.”
Budget preparations for the year 2013-14 are in full swing, and a series of meetings with various departments are set to begin on Monday. According to sources, Siddaramaiah, who also holds the finance portfolio, will present his Budget in the second week of July. Senior officials from the Finance Department have already briefed Siddaramaiah on the financial position of the state. He is expected to announce a few new schemes, modify or scrap some of those already announced by the previous Government. The new Budget is perceived to set an agenda for the government for the next five years. It is also expected to focus on the fresh sops announced by the CM immediately after he assumed office. He had announced a loan waiver and subsidies of over `4,409 crore benefitting over 1.38 crore people. Defending his decision to dole out sops which may cause a huge hole to the exchequer, the CM had said the burden would be eased through a slew of measures including enlarging the tax net, plugging pilferage in revenue collection and avoiding wasteful expenditure.
Chief Secretary S V Ranganath may get another four months’ extension. Ranganath, who was due to retire in April, was given a two-months’ extension and is set to retire by June-end. Siddaramaiah is keen on another extension.