No new tax, no rate hike in Delhi budget: Sisodia

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) For the third year in a row, the Delhi government has not raised any of the existing tax rates or imposed any new taxes in its budget, Finance Minister Manish Sisodia said on Wednesday.

“This is our third tax-free budget in three years,” Sisodia said during his budget speech in the Delhi assembly here.

He added that the government had instead reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) on various commodities like timber, marble and granite from 12.5 per cent to 5 per cent.

VAT on sanitary napkins costing more than Rs 20 will also be lowered from the existing 12.5 per cent to 5 per cent, the Finance Minister said.

Sisodia, also the Deputy Chief Minister, announced that VAT on Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) will be lowered from 25 per cent to 1 per cent for the flights destined to locations covered under the central government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme aimed at improving connectivity with remote areas.

Hailing the budget as poor-friendly, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the government was accomplishing a lot without raising tax rates.

“Money is being saved because we are working honestly… Under this outcome-oriented budget, there will be accountability of every single penny that is spent,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said.

Kejriwal said the government had allocated significantly more money to civic bodies this time so that they could put their house in order.

Asked if the budget was framed with the municipal elections in mind, Kejriwal said: “We are working towards public welfare and trying to fulfil our promises. If we ask for votes based on that, what’s wrong with it?”

“At least we are not asking for votes in the name of shamshan ghat and kabristan,” he said referring to Modi’s remarks that the Samajwadi Party-led Uttar Pradesh government should not differentiate between Muslim graveyards and Hindu cremation grounds.

The Delhi government, in its Rs 48,000 crore budget, allocated Rs 11,300 crore for education, Rs 5,736 crore for health and Rs 5,506 crore for transport.

–IANS

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