Published On: Sat, Feb 25th, 2023

No new taxes in Gujarat’s ₹3 lakh crore budget

The Gujarat government on Friday presented a ₹3.01 lakh crore budget for 2023-24, a significant 23% rise compared to last year, which proposed no new taxes, doubling of insurance cover and providing two free cooking gas cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme.

This was the first budget of the new BJP government headed by Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel that took office after the Assembly election in December. Of the total outlay, ₹1.91 lakh crore has been allocated for “development expenditure” and ₹1.04 lakh crore for “non-developmental expenditure”.

Finance Minister Kanubhai Desai said the government intends to raise ₹68,000 crore in public debts. The State’s public debt has touched around ₹3.8 lakh crore, which Mr. Desai contended was substantially lower than the limit prescribed by the Centre and the RBI. The GSDP is projected to cross ₹42 lakh crore over the next five years. The estimates for 2023-24 show a surplus of ₹916.87 crore.

Mr. Desai said ₹5 lakh crore would be spent over the next five years to boost infrastructure facilities. The budget allocated ₹1,500 crore to develop five State highways as high-speed corridors. He said the focus on infrastructure would help attract investments, increase productivity and competitiveness, and improve the standard of living. The tourism sector’s outlay has been increased to ₹2,000 crore to develop tourist infrastructure.

Poll promises

The budget also included several promises made during the Assembly poll such as reduction of value added tax on PNG and CNG, providing two free cooking gas cylinders every year to beneficiaries under the Ujjwala scheme and doubling of insurance cover from ₹5 lakh to ₹10 lakh under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.

The budget proposed to construct sports complexes in each district and taluka of the State. It also allocated ₹1,066 crore to provide homes for one lakh people under the PMAY (Urban) scheme in the next one year. Mr. Desai said a new Bill will be introduced in the Assembly to make a few changes to the electricity duty.

Major allocations

The budget also allocated ₹5,580 crore for social justice and empowerment, ₹3,410 crore for tribal development, ₹43,651 crore for education and human resources, ₹15,182 crore for health and family welfare, ₹19,685 crore for urban development, ₹8,738 crore for energy and petrochemicals, ₹20,642 crore for roads and building, ₹21,605 crore for agriculture and farmers welfare, and ₹14,000 crore for industries and mines, tourism and ports, and the transport sector.

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