Beyond Metros, Kerala

In Kerala, you will be taxed for eating “fat” food

The new Kerala government, led by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, announced its first budget on Friday. In his budget speech, finance minister Thomas Isaac introduced a “fat tax” of 14.5% on branded restaurants like McDonalds, Dominos and Pizza Hut etc. Isaac expects an estimated ₹10 crore would be raised by this tax.

Apart from this, the revised budget for 2016-17 by the Left government, weighs in on infrastructure development and social welfare. A ₹12,000 crore package has been allocated for infrastructure projects to curb economic slowdown. New tax regimes imposed aim to raise ₹805 crore; there’s a 5% tax on packaged wheat products, basmati rice and coconut oil, 2% on textiles, 20% tax on disposable tumblers made of plastic.

In terms of social welfare, the government announced that all welfare pensions will be increased to ₹1,000 from this month itself. The state is drafting a comprehensive health insurance scheme, which will be free for the poorest sections. It is also planning on passing a legislation to offer protection to migrant workers.

Last, the budget gives importance to women and transgenders; the government will create a separate department for women soon. Transgenders above the age of 60 years will be given pensions.

The state is also going to begin moving towards solar energy. In 2016, it will set up solar panels atop houses to generate 1,000 MW power.

Four wheeled vehicles which are over 15 years will be levied a ‘green tax’ on entering the state.

Fiscal consolidation is also another area that the government is focusing on; it intends on bringing down the deficit to ₹746.69 crore.

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