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Sops for farmers, traders in Maharashtra Budget

With an eye on assembly elections after the drubbing it got in the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-NCP state government Thursday presented a Rs. 4,103.3 crore deficit Budget for 2014-15 with a slew of sops for farmers, traders and professionals.

The Budget presented by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who holds the finance portfolio, in the assembly pegs revenue receipts at Rs. 1,80,320.5 crore and expenditure at Rs. 1,84,423.28 crore.

The Budget has many relief measures for the farming community in the state where many farmers had committed suicide.

“We have doubled the minimum assistance given to farmers,” the minister said, on the relief provided by the government to farmers in areas hit by drought, unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

The government, he said, would pay electricity bills of the affected farmers for the January-June 2014 period, Pawar said, adding it would also pay the interest on the crop loan taken by the affected farmers, besides extending loan repayment till December 2014.

The Deputy CM said no coercive action will be taken to recover the loans till then.

To keep the trading community, which has disapproved of the Local Bodies Tax (LBT) introduced last year, the turnover limit for registration under VAT has been doubled from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh and that for filing audit report has been increased from Rs. 60 lakh to Rs. 1 crore.

Though there have been talks of the LBT being replaced with Octroi again, nothing has been announced yet.

To keep urban citizens happy, the Budget has increased the minimum salary limit for profession tax to Rs. 7,500 from Rs. 5,000.

To appease the cotton farmers, the government has reduced tax rate on cotton to 2 per cent from 5 per cent.

Similarly, sugarcane sector has been exempted from the purchase tax for 2013-14.

The budget provides for Rs. 100.4 crore to boost the textile sector.

An amount of Rs. 4,255 crore has been earmarked for creation of 27,000 new jobs, Pawar said, adding an outlay of Rs. 2,836 crore has been provided for road development.

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