Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh on Saturday presented ‘Aam Aadmi’ budget of Rs. 44,169 crore for the fiscal year 2013-14 in an election year with budget deficit at Rs. 1678 crore.
Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, stressed on “inclusive growth” with the focus of the budget mainly on farmers, marginalised and the poor, tribals, youths and women.
The budget incorporated the Food Security Act that aims legal entitlement of food to 42 lakh poor families of the state. Chhattisgarh is the first state to enact its own Food Bill last December. This would cost the state exchequer Rs. 2000 crore annually.
A separate agriculture budget of Rs. 8542 crore, which is 19% of the total budget, was presented for the second time. Presenting the last budget before election, Singh announced several pro-poor initiatives and a new scheme for youth - Vivekanand Yuva Protsahan Yojana - aimed at employment generation. He declared several tax cuts in VAT and entry tax besides offered tax sops for ailing iron and steel sector.
To a query on how the state being able to maintain fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) within 3 % of the gross state domestic product (GSDP), the chief minister told Hindustan Times that the Chhattisgarh has the lowest interest burden in the country, the establishment cost remaining consistently low owing the lean government set-up and there has been steady revenue growth of 17 % annually from own taxes.
Singh announced bonus of Rs. 270 per quintal for paddy procured and with over 7 million metric tonnes procured during the current season, around Rs. 1900 crore would be disbursed among the farmers.
The opposition Congress party general secretary Ramesh Varlyani however retorted. “As the state is going to polls later this year, the government has given bonus of Rs. 270. Why haven’t they did it during the earlier four years? The budget appears populist but the common man will be totally disenchanted”, Varlyani said.
“With social sector remaining one of the main essence of our budget, the state will make progress towards reaching the objectives of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”, the chief minister affirmed. Along with several states of the country, the Chhattisgarh too has been lagging behind in accomplishing the targets of MDGs like alleviating poverty and hunger, universalizing education, women empowerment, reducing child morality, improving maternal health, combating AIDS, malaria diseases among others. To achieve MDGs the state for the first time earmarked 46 % of total outlay for social sector in 2010-11 budget.
With 9% increase in plan expenditure, the total plan outlay estimated at Rs. 24,699 crore is 56% of total budget outlay. The budget allocates 35% of the total plan expenditure for tribal sub-plan and 11% for scheduled caste sub-plan area.
The budgetary investment been targeted on the social sector which constitutes 41% of the total outlay. The economic sector shares 41% and the general services 18% of the total expenditure.
The capital expenditure however has not been upto the mark. The subsidy covered through the state’s expenditure aimed for the well-being of farmers and poor is affecting the scope for asset creations.