Government plans to boost tourism in upcoming budget: Sources

Government sources have said that the Indian government plans to cut down on taxes on travel and tourism and offer more incentive to the sector in the upcoming annual budget. The tourism industry in India is worth more than $210 billion.

The step is being taken with hopes to increase economic development and generation of employment. The country has also recently seen a surge in air travel given that airports are coming up all across the nation. Currently, according to reports, the tourism sector employs more than 40 million people and could potentially add up to 10 million more in the upcoming decade.

Sources have disclosed that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley plans to decrease hotel tariff rates by 28% and reward incentives to private companies.

Hotel industries like Taj and the Oberoi or even airlines like Jet Airways and tour operators like Thomas Cook are all expected to gain from this move. Additionally, domestic travel is now done mostly via online players like MakeMyTrip who will also be affected.

The government is also preparing to increase expenditure on constructing roads for tourist destinations and trains. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also earlier said that plans to invest more in North-Eastern tourism are being ushered in.

Sources: Economic Times, Reuters



In the bank of municipal elections on the bank of October this year, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O. Panneersevalam presented a revised budget for the fiscal year 2016-2017 which was also the present AIADMK government’s first budget on Thursday.

The budget broadly concentrates of improvement of transportation, healthcare, necessities and education and a budget of Rs 13,800 crore has been allocated to the energy sector with emphasis on solar power and the government predicts that in the next five years the energy sector with enhance its productivity.

Interestingly the budget did not spills any bills at all on the total prohibition of alcohol, and the financial experts made it very clear that total prohibition of alcohol in Tamil Nadu would be financially unviable.

In the last seven years the revenue from alcohol to the government has doubled to Rs 21,641 crore per year. The government would certainly not agree to a loss of Rs 1 lakh croce in the next five years where it has to adjust with food and power subsidies and security pensions said a top bureaucrat to The Hindu.

The other highlights include:

Decided to build 37 primary health care centers.

To provide education to all children.

Decided to give laptops to over 5 lakh students.

 Allocation Rs2,700 crore to maintain Highways.

Sum of Rs 445.19 crore allotted for flood prevention and water sources.



Kerala govt announces pension scheme for transgenders in 2016 budget

The first budget of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government has brought a wave of joy for the transgender community in Kerala. The budget, which was presented by finance minister Thomas Isaac on Friday, announced a pension scheme for transgenders in the state who are above the age of 60.

However, the pension amount has not been disclosed yet.

Apart from the pension scheme, in an attempt to protect the interests of the minority group, the government will also provide special education aid for students coming from the transgender community.

As reported by The Indian Express, the policy will cover all categories of the community, including male to female transgenders and intersex people.

With an aim to create an inclusive environment for transgenders in the state, Kerala became the first Indian state to unveil a Transgender Policy in 2015. The policy stressed upon creating equal social and economic opportunities for transgenders. Setting up of a TG Justice Board with state minister for Social Justice as it’s chairperson has also been recommended under this policy.



In a first, Kerala govt introduces ‘Fat Tax’ on junk food


In a first, the newly elected, fiscally constrained Left government in Kerala has imposed a 14.5% tax on junk food. This will make items such as burger, pasta, pizza costlier in the state. The decision to impose a ‘fat tax’ was announced by state finance minister Thomas Isaac on Friday, while presenting the LDF government’s first budget.

According to a report by Firstpost, the state hopes to raise over Rs 10 crores through the new tax. However, the decision has come as a major blow to fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC as their businesses would take a severe hit once the policy is implemented.

The proposal also includes a 5% tax on certain packaged foods like roti.

According to the 2015 National Health Survey, Kerala ranks second in terms of childhood obesity. The ‘fat tax’ imposed by the government may help in fighting obesity to some extent as anyone would now think twice before ordering junk food from a fast food chain.

‘Fat tax’ as a concept is prevalent in certain foreign countries like France, Denmark and Hungary. However, in India, the idea of food tax as a tool to reduce the consumption of junk food among people remains as a comparatively new concept .

Working on similar lines, earlier this year, the Bihar government had also imposed a 13.5 percent tax on food items like samosas, kachauri and branded snacks.






Kerala CM presents budget amid uproar by opposition

Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, on Friday presented the state budget for 2016- 17 in the legislative assembly amid uproar and boycott by the opposition Left Front demanding Chandy’s resignation over his alleged involvement in the Solar scam and Bar Bribery case.

Chandy is the fourth chief minister of the state to present the budget in the assembly and this has happened after a 29-year gap. Chandy took over the finance ministry from former minister K M Mani following a strong remark made by the Kerala High Court regarding Mani’s role in the Bar Bribery Scam.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) members held banners and placards and engaged in intense sloganeering, after which the LDF MLAs staged a walkout and boycotted the presentation. Chandy, however, presented the budget uninterrupted.

Further, the LDF said that the main points in the budget were leaked before the presentation and blamed the CM for not keeping the budget details confidential.

In his budget speech, CM Chandy stressed on the various achievements of the United Democratic Front (UDF) government over the five years such as the Kochi Metro and Kannur Airport.

Last year in March 2015, the LDF had disrupted K M Mani’s budget presentation and drew a lot of flak for their violent behaviour in the house.

Sources: Economic TimesManorama

RBI Review: Repo rate, CRR to remain unchanged

Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan on Tuesday announced that the RBI has decided to leave the monetary policies rates unchanged, after the last monetary policy review for the current fiscal year. While the repo rate remains unchanged at 6.75 per cent, cash reserve ratio is maintained at 4 per cent.

“The Indian economy is currently being viewed as a beacon of stability because of the steady disinflation, a modest current account deficit and commitment to fiscal rectitude,” read the monetary policy statement released by the apex bank.

The central bank maintained that inflation level is likely to rise to 6 per cent for the month of January, mainly due to the implementation of the seventh central pay commission which is expected to accelerate the monetary flow in the economy.

The RBI has predicted that India will achieve Gross Value Added (GVA) growth of 7.6 per cent for the financial year 2016-2017, after assessing balance of risks.

The Finance Ministry, last Friday, marginally altered Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth from 7.3 per cent to 7.2 per cent, while stating that the growth rate is well within the projected 7, for the last two fiscal years.

SOURCES: Business StandardEconomic Times

Centre scales up budget of solar rooftop installations to Rs 5000 crore

New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed scaling up of budget from Rs 600 crore to Rs 5,000 crore for accomplishment of Grid Connected Rooftops systems over a period of five years upto 2019-20 under the National Solar Mission (NSM).

Looking for innovations to tap solar energy through rooftop installations across the country, this project will support installation of 4200 MW Solar Rooftop systems in the next five years. It will come up through installation on the housing, government, social and institutional sector (hospitals and educational institutions) buildings.

For general category states/Union Territories and 70 per cent for special category states i.e., the North-Eastern States including Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, a capital subsidy of 30 per cent will be provide. Commercial and industrial establishments in the private sector will be given no subsidies since they are eligible for other benefits such as accelerated depreciation, custom duty concessions, excise duty, etc.

This project if successfully implemented will generate a market and help build assurance of the consumers which will enable balance capacity through market mode to achieve the target of 40,000 MWp by 2022.

A great opportunity is available for generating solar power using space unutilized on rooftops in various building. Solar rooftop systems can create energy in about Rs.6.50/kWh, and this is cheaper than the diesel gen-sets based electricity generation.

Source: India Today, Times of India