Following the presentation of the budget by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, the Maharashtra government has decided to set up a committee of secretaries to study its provisions and enable the state to grab a large share of the pie.
The committee is likely to be headed by the additional chief secretary (finance).
“Based on the committee’s report, we will take steps to ensure the state gets maximum funds from the Centre and will make necessary arrangements for sectors that are not covered by central schemes,” said state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Wednesday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government is expected to leverage some of the incentives introduced in the budget during the upcoming elections. This includes increased spending for Dalits, a 25% hike in farm investment and a hike in the expenditure for the rural employment scheme. Close to 80% of state’s population is expected to vote in the mini assembly polls in February. Ten of the state’s biggest cities and 25 district councils comprising 75% of its rural vote bank will elect new members of local self-government bodies.
The state government welcomed the Union budget, describing it as ‘transformational’.
“It’s a participative, inclusive budget that will cause as much disruption as demonetisation and take the country to next level of development”said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
“While maintaining financial prudence, the budget has made way for a substantial jump in spending. This was made possible owing to the positive impact of demonetisation. Capital expenditure has been enhanced by 25% and expenditure on infrastructure is pegged at Rs4 lakh crore,’’he added.
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar praised the budget’s focus on four sectors – farmers, poor citizens, women and youth.
Both Fadnavis and Mungantiwar applauded ‘radical reforms’ in political funding, saying this would usher in transparency in politics and was a step towards eliminating black money.
The CM termed the decision to slash income tax from 10 %to 5%for the slab of Rs2.5 lakh to Rs5 lakh earners ‘historic’. He added that this would help create a more tax-compliant society.
He said the 5% tax rebate for medium and small sector enterprises would help create jobs. He also praised the ‘never before’ focus on the housing sector.
Meanwhile, the opposition slammed the budget.
“The Union budget has taken care of corporate houses and industrialists, but has no provisions for farmers and for the poor. The government should have announced a loan waiver for farmers affected by demonetisation,”said state Congress chief Ashok Chavan. “The budget has no provisions for small traders, labourers, tribals and minorities. The Prime Minister constantly talks about employment, but his government has failed to make any provisions for employees. The budget is full of the announcements that are not backed by solid schemes,” he added.
“People were expecting relief in terms of income tax after facing the ill-effects of demonetisation. However, the budget wasn’t up to the mark. Whatever relief was announced is minimal. It is also unclear if one compares it to earlier budgets,”said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik
“The government should have provided tax relief up to R 5 lakh a year as the Shiv Sena had suggested. It has instead proposed Rs3 lakh. Every year, there are provisions for infrastructure, agriculture and rural development, which do not translate to actual expenditure and wealth creation,” said Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar Kirtikar .