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J&K Budget: Fee waiver for school girls; hike in VAT

J&K Budget: Fee waiver for school girls; hike in VAT
Unveiling a Rs 64,669 crore budget for 2016-17, the Jammu and Kashmir government today announced a slew of measures for women, including a fee waiver for girls in government schools, while a number of things including mobiles, garments and packed food would turn costlier.

Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu also announced for women four police stations across the state and a dedicated city bus service in Srinagar and Jammu, while reserving 10 per cent area in industrial estates for their enterprises.

On taxation front, he proposed to hike VAT by 1 per cent on items including cell phones, tablets and iPads, imitation jewellery, readymade garments, hoisery goods, packed frozen food, juices and ready-to-serve food, reported PTI.

Besides, all online purchases would be subjected to an entry tax, as against an earlier threshold limit of Rs 5,000, while an entertainment duty of Rs 50 per connection will be levied a month on satellite and cable TV operators.

The aviation turbine fuel Levy will go up from 20 to 25 per cent, while the toll levied on vehicles will also go up.

At the same time, Drabu proposed to exempt from VAT the lodging services provided by hotels and guest houses, as also for carpets and agriculture produce.

The budget estimates envisage a deficit of nearly Rs 3,000 crore as the revenue receipts are expected to be to the tune of Rs 61,681 crore during the current fiscal.

"This fiscal the total receipts are estimated at Rs 61,681 crore. Of these 51,460 crore are revenues and Rs 10,221 crore in the form of borrowings. The state''s own revenues are estimated to be Rs 23,737 crore while Rs 9,500 crore will come from the state''s share in central taxes.

"In addition to this Rs 27,721 crore are to flow as other central transfers," Drabu said in his Budget speech.

The budget presentation, which was earlier scheduled to be held on January 18, had to be deferred in the wake of death of the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7.

Giving details of the Budget estimates, Drabu said Rs 19,694 crore will be the capital expenditure while Rs 44,975 crore will be the revenue expenditure.

"What these large numbers mean is that we are spending Rs 2.50 in order to be able to spend Re 1.00 on development. To reduce this ratio from 2.5:1 and at least bring it at par with the development spend is the first big challenge.

"We have made a good beginning in this budget. But the road ahead is difficult as salaries and pensions...account for more than Rs 23,000 crore which is more than the development expenditure in the year," he added.

Drabu said the state had got a large development expenditure this year in view of the Rs 6,000 crore from the Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister''s Development Plan announced last year.

The highlight of budget was the women-specific measures which includes waiving fees for all girl children studying in government run schools up to 12th standard.

"In deference to our first woman Chief Minister (Mehbooba Mufti), I am introducing some gender specific budgeting initiatives. I propose the government waive...the fee of all girl students in the state government run educational institutions up to the higher secondary level," Drabu said.

He also proposed that 10 per cent area in all industrial estates of the state will be reserved for women entrepreneurs, subject to the condition that if it is transferred, it shall be to an enterprise which is incorporated in the name of a woman and has women as the majority shareholders.

"I am proposing to set up two Entrepreneur Development Centre to be set up at Srinagar and Jammu to help, guide and train aspiring women entrepreneurs," he said.

Drabu also announced setting up of four new women police stations at Pulwama, Kupwara, Kathua and Udhampur.

The budget also has provision of Rs 5 crore for starting a dedicated city bus service for women in Srinagar and Jammu.

"I am making a provision to provide exclusive women toilets in all state, district and subdistrict hospitals," he added.

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