No fresh taxes, heightened allocation for minority development, 40 lakh bicycles to students and sops for traders — it is a heady mix of doles. But opposition parties in the state allege that all this has been done keeping in mind the assembly polls.
“It seems that assembly elections are knocking on the door. The budget is all about doles and sops. It is nothing concrete. Nothing long term,” said Shamik Bhattacharya, senior BJP leader and MLA.
“The budget did not direct any big economic growth. Where is the roadmap? We believe in politics of development. But what is the use of going to the prime minister?” added Bhattacharya.
BJP leaders also rued the fact that there was no mention of the chit funds in the state and how to stop them.
“Some say Rs. 70,000 crore was invested in ponzi schemes in the state and lost. The government has nothing to say about this. Last year, the government started its own savings scheme, but this budget is silent on it,” said Bhattacharya.
The state budget saw a range of sops for small and medium industries, dealers and traders. This section is known to be close to BJP, whose popularity is growing. Threshold limit for paying value-added tax (VAT) for dealers have been the ones with an annual turnover of Rs. 5 lakh. But now the threshold limit has been increased to Rs. 10 lakh annual turnover. This will keep nearly 20,000 dealers out of VAT. The government also has announced amnesty schemes to big unregistered dealers and promised to solve disputes within one month.
Congress leader and MLA Manas Bhuniya said, “The budget is completely suppressive and misleading. It is mysterious how the state’s income will increase? There is no indication of the money received in the form of state’s share from central taxes.”
“Many facts and figures are incorrect and the government’s comments are baseless. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is saying that people in Jangalmahal are happy. However, there is no proper allocation for the area,” said Suryakanta Mishra, CPI(M) MLA and leader of the opposition in the assembly.
“The government tried to project itself at a friend of businessmen. It is also handing out freebies. However, there is no initiative of overall development of the people. For instance, teachers are on hunger strike for increase in salaries. The government is not bothered,” said Soumen Basu, state committee secretary of SUCI. The budget allocation for minority affairs and madrasa education has been increased from Rs. 1797 crore to Rs. 2033 crore. The government also announced 40 lakh bicycles for students.
The monthly stipend for Kanyashree, the chief minister’s hyped project was also increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 750.