Thiruvananthapuram: Movie tickets, beer and wine prices are to be hiked and a "flood cess" implemented in cash-strapped Kerala as the CPI(M)-led LDF government presented its first post-flood budget on Thursday in an effort to mobilise additional resources to rebuild the state.
Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac presented the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal, giving thrust to a massive rebuilding exercise in the state that witnessed massive destruction due to floods last August.
He proposed 25 new projects to resurrect Kerala that battled the deadliest flood of the century. Over Rs 1,000 crore was earmarked for the "Rebuild Kerala" initiative and Rs 739 crore was allotted for the altogether development of Sabarimala, which saw destruction during the floods. Nearly 200 crore was allotted for the setting up of basic amenities in the base camps at Pamba and Nilakkal.
The finance minister said that Kerala is grateful to the central government and forces for their assistance during the floods, but the Centre’s stand after the floods has not been in the interest of the state government.
The budget also proposed to increase by two per cent, the tax rate on first sale of all kinds of foreign liquor, including beer and wine, which is expected to mobilise an additional revenue of Rs 180 crore.
Visits to cinema halls are also set to cost more as the budget proposed that local bodies permit levy of 10 per cent "entertainment tax" on tickets. "As per the recommendation of the GST Council, the GST rate of cinema tickets was brought down to 18 per cent from 28 per cent. As such, the local bodies will be permitted to levy 10 per cent entertainment tax on cinema tickets," Issac said.
To address the increasing atmospheric pollution due to diesel and petrol vehicles, the budget proposed to promote electric vehicles, providing 25 per cent tax concession for five years for such vehicles. "A 50% concession on tax for five years will be granted to newly registered e-Rickshaws," the minister said.
Seeking to mobilise additional revenue, a 0.25 per cent "flood cess" would be levied on all goods coming under the Fifth schedule, including gold, silver and platinum ornaments on the value of supply, the minister said.
In order to raise additional revenue of RS 600 crore to rebuild the flood-hit areas, 0.25 percent ‘flood cess’ would be levied on all goods coming under the Fifth schedule, including gold, silver and platinum ornaments on the value of supply.
One percent calamity cess would also be imposed on all items in the 12, 18 and 28 GST slabs, which would include packed food items, mobile phones and air-conditioned restaurants.
Fulfilling the long-pending demand of the expatriate community, the budget proposed that the Department of Non Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) would bear expenses to transport bodies of deceased expatriates from the Gulf region to the state.
A luxury tax rate of six per cent will be imposed on residential buildings that fall above the 3,000 square feet bracket.