Tax free, deficit less Rs 16,387 cr budget presented in Tripura

Tripura Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma on Tuesday presented a Rs 16,387.21 crore tax-free budget for financial year 2018-19. Tabling the budget on the first day of the assembly session, Dev Varma, who holds the Finance portfolio, said that there is no deficit in the budget. He, however, proposed increase of sales tax on petrol by two per cent and on diesel and piped natural gas by one per cent each. Besides, the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led alliance government levied cess on turnover at the rate of two per cent on the three fuels. With the increase of sales tax and imposition of cess, the state government is expecting to earn Rs 40.84 crore per year. The earning from the proposed new cess would be utilised for road development in the state, he said. The first budget of the BJP government also marginally increased road tax, except for three wheelers and electric vehicles. In the budget which has a 14.62 per cent increase over the revised estimates of last fiscal (2017-18), he announced eight new schemes while broadening scope many ongoing schemes and projects. In his over two-hour-long budget speech, Dev Varma proposed to constitute the Tripura Infrastructure and Investment Fund Board for raising funds from private sector for taking up large infrastructure projects. He also announced that several awards would be introduced soon to encourage meritorious youths in the field of education, sports and culture, to recognise outstanding work of the civil servants and to boost the quality education by teachers. Briefing media after the budget presentation, Principal Secretary, Finance, M. Nagaraju said that a lump-sum amount of Rs 1,000 crore has been earmarked in the budget to implement the recommendation of the Seventh Central Pay Commission (7th CPC) for Tripura government employees. As per the pre-poll promise of the BJP, the government in March has constituted a three-member expert committee headed by former Assam Chief Secretary P.P. Varma to implement the much demanded 7th CPC proposals in the state for over 2.15 lakh government employees and pensioners. In the budget, Dev Varma also said that Distress Paras (distress habitat) would be identified in the interior and tribal areas to provide free ration to the people living there. He said that Rs 300 crore has been allocated to implement the 33 social security pension schemes benefiting 4.22 lakh people that been launched by the previous Left Front government. The BJP government would launch new pension schemes for the new state government employees who would join in the government service from July this year. The state government has decided to distribute free smartphones to college students studying under-graduate degree in the government degree colleges, he announced. Meanwhile, Speaker Rebati Mohan Das announced that election of the new Deputy Speaker would be held on Thursday. According to assembly sources, Congress-turned-BJP legislator Biswabandhu Sen is likely to be chosen for the post unopposed.


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