Kerala budget: Liquor prices, court fee to cost more; Rs 250 cr for Digital University

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Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal presents the State Budget 2024-25 during the Kerala Assembly session, in Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal presents the State Budget 2024-25 during the Kerala Assembly session, in Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram: In order to generate additional funds for development works, the CPI(M) government in Kerala on Monday increased the liquor prices and judicial court fees in the budget presented on Monday.

Excise duty on Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) has been hiked by Rs 10 per litre to generate revenue of Rs 200 crore, state Finance Minister K N Balagopal said while presenting the fourth budget of the second Pinarayi Vijayan government.

Court fee and electricity duty on those generating their own electric power have also increased in the budget for the fiscal 2024-25, he said.

"The Abkari law permits levying a gallonage fee of up to 30 rupees per litre on the sale of Indian-made foreign liquor. This has been set at 10 rupees per litre," Balagopal said.

Through this, an additional revenue of Rs 200 crore is expected, he said.

The budget also proposed an enhancement of 15 paise per unit in the electricity duty for consumers who generate and consume energy for their own consumption, eying an additional revenue of Rs 24 crore.

"From 1,963 onwards, electricity duty for the sale of electricity is being levied at the rate of 6 paise per unit. This is enhanced to 10 paise per unit. An additional revenue of Rs.101.41 crore is expected," the finance minister said.

Balagopal further said that suitable amendments will be incorporated in The Kerala Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1959 to find ways to mobilise more revenue from the area.

"Through these, the government expects a revenue of Rs 50 crore," he said.

Though it was widely expected, the minister opted not to hike the social welfare pensions but assured to pay it on time next year.

The minister allocated Rs 1,698.30 crore for the struggling agriculture sector and increased the minimum support price for rubber to Rs 180 from Rs 170.

He also set aside Rs 50 crore for extreme poverty eradication and announced Rs 134.42 crore for the cooperative sector.

Balagopal said that though the state is facing an economic crunch and the Centre allegedly imposing financial restrictions, the LDF government would not show any compromise on the development front.

Indicating that the state government would go ahead with its development plans, the finance minister said investments worth Rs three lakh crore would be brought to the southern state in the next three years.

He said Rs 1,698 crore would be set aside for the traditional agricultural sector and investments worth Rs 5,000 crore would be attracted to the tourism sector.

"The tourism sector is growing. Allocating Rs 351 crore for it in fiscal 2024-25," he said.

Amidst increasing demand by rubber farmers for hiking its support price, Balagopal announced an increase of Rs 10 in it.

"The minimum support price for rubber is increased to Rs 180 from Rs 170," he said.

Announcing more support to the higher education sector, the minister earmarked Rs 250 crore for the Digital University.

Balagopal said along with the straightening of lines and doubling of tracks, it is necessary to have the high speed rail system for the future development of the state. "The state will continue with its efforts to realise the K-Rail project. Discussions with the Central government in this regard are going on," he added.

A sum of Rs 300.73 crore is earmarked for the smooth and time-bound execution of major projects such as Vizhinjam Port, Cochin Metro and Kannur Airport.

The minister also blamed the Centre's economic policies and alleged neglect of Kerala for the southern state's financial problems.