Steering clear of introducing any new taxes, the Aam Aadmi Party government's third budget for 2017-18 has a larger outlay of Rs.48,000 crore with education and health clearly singled out as priority sectors. Public transport, water and sanitation are also projected as critical to its model of welfare and development.
In keeping with its commitment to make Delhi a state with the lowest VAT regime in the country which it announced last year, the government has proposed reduction of VAT on items ranging from air turbine fuel for airlines operating on regional connectivity routes to sanitary napkins and construction material such as granite and plywood, blackboards and particle boards, among others. However, the VAT slabs will be applicable only till GST is implemented. Once that happens, the VAT cuts will require a review under the GST framework and accordingly amalgamated into the new system.
The focus of the AAP government is on consolidating its core strengths as it closes the year with lower revenue and expenditure for 2016-17 than was proposed at the beginning of the year.
The budget speech did not give any prominence to AAP's ambitious projects like mohalla sabhas, aam admi canteens, CCTVs and WiFi which were part of previous speeches. But allocations for these sectors have been made. For the first time in Delhi, in keeping with the decision of the Centre, plan and non plan categories have been dispensed with and the budget has been prepared under revenue and capital heads. Also, in another first, the government has introduced the concept of “outcome budget“ under which quarterly reviews will be done to assess the delivery of schemes and projects in terms of their qualitative impact and execution. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who holds the finance portfolio, said “it would act like a contract between the government and the people“.
With an eye on the municipal polls, the government has earmarked a record Rs.7,571 crore for the civic bodies, which comes to about 15% of the total allocation. Sisodia said the AAP government will continue to give subsidy to battery-operated vehicles as part of efforts to promote an eco-friendly public transport system. Also subsidies on water and power will stay .
For women's safety , the key highlight was enhancing the budget of Delhi Commission for Women by three times with a total allocation of Rs.20 crore.