Visionary earlier, realistic now — was how Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal described the 2017 budget that was presented in the state assembly on Wednesday. The budget was the third of the AAP government since it returned to power in 2015.
“People earlier questioned the big ideas in the budget. But in the past two years, the government has shown that all the ideas could be achieved. Schools are getting revamped, mohalla clinics are opening,” Kejriwal said, while lauding deputy chief minister and Delhi finance minister Manish Sisodia for coming up with a budget that showed “that it was possible by prudent use of public money”.
Sisodia on Wednesday presented Delhi’s third consecutive budget, which was laced with couplets and sarcasm that targeted the Centre for demonetisation.
While alleging that the Centre had deciding to implement note ban after just tossing a coin, Sisodia recited a couplet saying “sab faisle ho nahin sakte sikke uchhal ke, ye jinda kaumon ke masle hain zara dekh bhaaal ke (Economy cannot be run by tossing coins, you need to do brainstorming for that)”.
“Labourers were the worst hit by note ban. I have come across instances where a few them have even committed suicide due to it,” Sisodia added.
Unlike last year, when the government came up with big ticket ideas such as Swaraj Fund, establishment of District Urban Development Authority (DUDA), proposal of east-west elevated corridor and opening 1,000 mohalla clinics, the budget this year was more about enlisting the achievements of the government in implementing earlier projects and further consolidation of the programmes.
Continuing the pattern of allocation, education and health care again got the lion’s share of the budgetary pie. While the speech didn’t say anything on addition of DTC buses, installation of CCTVs and providing free WiFi, Sisodia said all these projects are on and allocation has been made to concerned departments.
On Wednesday, for the first time, the budget timings in Delhi assembly were changed. Unlike the post-lunch presentation, the budget presentation was scheduled for noon on Wednesday. The session started about 10 minutes late due to lack of quorum.
While the chief minister, finance minister and Opposition members were seated on time, the session was delayed as some AAP legislators trudged in late.
In tune with the Centre’s reforms in the budget-making, the Delhi government also came up with expenditure classified under revenue and capital heads, instead of the traditional distinction of planned and non-plan head.
Hailing the announcements in Delhi budget, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) called the budget comprehensive “as it has succeeded in addressing some of the issues of citizens as well as the industry”.
DS Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM, said: “Massive thrust on further improving the social infrastructure, more so in terms of promoting education and healthcare. These policy actions are aimed at transforming Delhi into a world-class urban city.”