THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The year ahead is going to be a taxing one for the people of the state. Because that is precisely what the 10th state budget by Thomas Isaac and his fourth as Finance Minister of the incumbent government proposes to do.
What the people of Kerala will have to cough up is Rs 1,785 crore by way of additional tax in the next fiscal as against what it is paying during the ongoing fiscal.
Thus, the 2019-20 target set by Isaac is Rs 65,784.60 crore, which would mean an ambitious 24 per cent jump in tax collection. This comes at a juncture when his target of Rs 58,588.44 crore for 2018-19 looks set to fall short by Rs 5,477.86 crore.
Additional revenue will be mobilised by preventing GST evasion. Starting July, Kerala will get the data to scrutinise the tax accounts. By detecting illegal input tax credit claims and suppression of turnover, 14 pc growth will be achieved in GST collection. An additional Rs 2,000 crore will be collected through the amnesty for VAT arrears.
True, Isaac aims to bring down the fiscal deficit for 2019-20 to three per cent of GSDP from last year’s 3.06 per cent and revenue deficit to one per cent from 1.68 per cent in 2018-19. But the Finance Minister does not wield any magic wand to pare down the deficit.
Instead, he puts the burden of almost all big-ticket expenditures on Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). According to rough estimates, the aggregate spent under this head will add up to around Rs 20,000 crore in the coming fiscal.
The budget unveiled 25 major projects for a New Kerala. They include the development of industrial parks at a cost of Rs 141 crore, innovation zone for start-ups, agri-development projects for the flood-ravaged Wayanad and Kuttanad, the north-south parallel rail track and the second phase of Hunger Free Kerala project.
The budget has announced a comprehensive health security scheme which would unify the erstwhile RSBY, Karunya and others under the Health Department. The government will remit an insurance premium for the 42 lakh families with low income. The remaining 20 lakh families, excluding government employees and pensioners, can join the scheme by remitting their premium.