Kerala Finance Minister K Sankaranarayanan has spared the common man of any new taxes but announced development measures to the tune of Rs 453.21 crore to be met through enhanced revenue collection and prudent fiscal management.
The budget for 2003-04, whose presentation was virtually stalled by the opposition LDF demonstrating against the Muthanga police firing, showed a deficit of Rs 519.88 crore mainly resulting from a revenue loss of Rs 500 crore due to introduction of value added tax from April 2003.
Fiscal 2002-03 is to close with a cumulative surplus of Rs 30.10 crore, while a surplus of Rs 403.23 crore was anticipated during 2003-04.
With the current budget containing development expenditure of Rs 453.21 crore, the year was expected to close with a deficit of Rs 519.88 crore when loss from VAT has been taken into account.
The finance minister announced a social safety net for the destitute, insurance scheme for the disabled, medical insurance for pensioners and two instalments of dearness allowance for government employees.
Carrying forward the reform process, the minister said a fiscal responsibility bill and a sinking fund for debt management were on the cards.
He announced a Rs 50-crore price stabilisation for cash crops, a traditional industries support fund with a corpus of Rs 50 crore.