Schemes to help all sectors hit by the pandemic
The State government will come up with schemes to help those in coir, cashew, handloom and other traditional industries and small and medium traders badly hit by the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic, Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal told the Assembly.
Replying to the three-day general discussion on the revised Budget for 2021-2022 in the House, the Mr. Balagopal also announced that the last date for giving options to the VAT amnesty scheme was being extended from August 31 to November 30.
The deadline for giving the option to pay the turnover tax of the bars has been extended from July 31 to October 31. Mr. Balagopal said the stage carriers, taxies and autorickshaws reeling under COVID will be granted time till August 31 to pay the motor vehicle tax.
Admitting that the financial situation of the State was bad, Mr. Balagopal criticised the technicalities raised by the Opposition on the revised Budget presented by him. The debt of many States, including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar, has increased.
Former Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac’s announcement that ₹5,000 crore was available in the treasury was to make it clear that there was no cash crunch when he stepped down, Mr. Balagopal said.
Instead of going for harsh measures, the Finance Minister said the government was trying to put cash in the hands of the people and revive the economy. A sum of ₹1,140 crore is being made available through kits, ₹1,110 crore for welfare pension, ₹1,100 crore for contractors and ₹1,100 crore for employee guarantee scheme. The government has also set aside ₹2,000 crore for primary cooperative societies.
Pointing out the legislators did not debate on the immense scope of the agriculture sector, the Minister said efforts would be made to make value-added products from various types of banana grown in the state, mango and pineapple. The possibility of making industrial spirit from tapioca should be looked into.
Seeks Oppn. cooperation
Stating that the unanimous resolution of the Assembly had also influenced the decision of the Centre to change the vaccine policy, he sought the cooperation of the Opposition to tide over the crisis.
Mr. Balagopal said the revised budget aimed to spend ₹2,800 crore on the health sector, including ₹1,500 crore for vaccines and equipment. Out of this ₹540 crore would be provided from the MLA fund and ₹559 crore from the Central fund to the local bodies.
Earlier, the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the House that ₹4 crore each would be taken from the Legislative Assembly Constituency Asset Development Fund of each MLA for the development of hospitals that was estimated to cost ₹ 636.5 crore.
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