Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kerala Budget: Addictions that will not add up

By John Cheeran

A budget without taxes is like a Harold Robbins novel without sex. When Kerala’s finance minister K M Mani presented his 12th budget in the state assembly on Friday, he did not disappoint Malayalis. The
liquor bill is going up again, so is the price for chasing the illusion of becoming rich. The minister has proposed a 10% tax hike on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), which already stands at 105%. Beer
and wine attract 80% tax in the state.

Another great Malayali addiction – lottery — too gets the FM’s attention. He has increased the price of lottery tickets by 50%, with the most popular draw costing you Rs 30 from the existing Rs 20. Between liquor and lottery, the Malayali will have little left in his purse to pursue other slices of happiness.

In fact, if the Malayali stops drinking, the state’s financial structure would collapse. A lion’s share – 40% - of the state’s revenue comes from liquor, lottery and petrol. No wonder, then, that Mani while allocating funds for various social welfare and awareness schemes, including increasing awareness about Kerala’s heritage among the Malayali diaspora in North America, has not earmarked even a paisa for the Gandhian fetish of anti-liquor campaigns.

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