electric vehicles: Bengal budget: FM expands cash transfers, provides tax breaks to tea sector and electric vehicles

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On Friday, the Mamata Banerjee government sought to expand the reach of direct cash transfers in the state budget, leveraging a proven 2021 polling model to boost voter approval ratings and boost demand for the bottom of the pyramid.

New state Finance Minister Chandrima Battacharya has proposed to expand cash transfers to 21 lakh widows, while the state already provides guaranteed income to 1.53 crore women aged 25-60 through the “Lakshmir Bhandar” scheme with an annual financial implication of around Rs 10,000 crore, creating a hole in the state finances. The budget provides Rs 960 crore more for the expanded widows pension scheme from the current expenditure of Rs 1560 crore.

The budget also aims to relieve the tea sector and its workers, and encourage investment in battery-powered two- and four-wheel vehicles. Tax breaks have also been proposed to reduce carbon emissions.

However, the increase in public spending is likely to accentuate the pressure on the State’s finances. The government is looking to borrow another 6.5% at Rs 114,959 crore in FY23 to meet the proposed spending hike, even though the revenue shortfall is expected to fall to Rs 28,280 crore in the course of the year. of the financial year 23 against 32,964 crores for the current financial year. Bhattacharya placed a deficit budget of Rs 2 crore as she planned to provide Rs 3,21,030 crore in the next financial year.

It expects FY23 revenue to rise to Rs 198,047 crore from the revised FY22 estimate of Rs 176,031 crore.

“We are following the demand-side stimulation model by putting cash into the hands of ordinary people through digital platforms, as has been done by developed and developing economies around the world,” Bhattacharya said.

According to government estimates, the state’s economy is expected to grow

12.82% in FY22 on a weak base while the national economy is expected to register a positive growth of 9.18%. India’s GDP contracted by 7.25% in FY21, while the state said its economy grew by 1.06%.

“We have consistently shown positive growth in government spending on infrastructure development, social sector spending, agriculture and related sector spending. We are back with hope and optimism,” said Bhattacharya, Minister of State in charge of the Ministry of Finance.

Former finance minister Amit Mitra left his portfolio for health reasons when he was given the task of advising the new FM.

The government has embarked on an ambitious project to develop the Deocha Pachami coal block, which is one of the largest coal blocks in the world and will provide power for the rapid industrialization of the state in addition to offer huge job opportunities in the mining sector itself. as well as in allied and auxiliary establishments. It would be interesting to see how the government calms the ongoing unrest among residents who are at risk of being displaced by the project.

The government also said it had identified over 1,000 acres to develop the Tajpur deep sea port project. “It will tap into enormous logistics potential, attract new investment in allied infrastructure and industrial development, and provide employment opportunities,” the FM said.

The Minister has offered to provide relief to the tea industry, tea plantations and the hundreds of thousands of tea workers who depend on the tea industry for their livelihood, in the form of exemption from paying the tax on rural employment and the tax on education. She also proposed waiving farm income tax for FY23 to ease the burden on tea plantations, especially small ones. To encourage investment in battery-powered two- and four-wheel electric vehicles, she proposed waiving registration fees and road tax for the next two years. Registration fees and road tax on CNG vehicles are also offered over the same period.

The exemption from 2% stamp duty rebate and 10% land/property circle rate rebate has been extended for another 6 months until 30 September. This should relieve home buyers.

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