On the eve of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) state government’s first budget, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said his focus will be on the rural sector, where he will concentrate on irrigation, infrastructure, skill-based employment and making women financially independent.
Mungantiwar, who will present his maiden budget on Wednesday, admits this budget might not be what he envisioned financially, but he is happy that he is setting a new direction and goal for the state.
The state is facing a huge financial crunch. How do you plan to maintain balance between fiscal discipline and expenditure on government schemes?
I have changed the approach from an expenditure-based budget to an output-oriented one. I had held departmental meetings where I realised that every year budget allocations were made in bits and pieces and in absence of any data. At least 20% of the budget is allocated for socially- and economically-backward classes, but we haven’t been successful in bringing them into the mainstream. My observation is that the planning was zero and there were no fixed targets, which is why projects have been incomplete.
What is the change you propose to bring? What is the output based method?
The output based method lays thrust on monitoring. My work should not be restricted to planning the financial outlay. The most important part is to see that the money is used appropriately. Also, we will look at non-conventional methods of earning revenue.
How will you monitor the finances of each department and project?
I am setting up a monitoring system by linking all departments and getting real-time information on projects. The idea is to see the status of a project, when it was tendered, how much money was spent, the deadline and how much is completed. This will help us have financial control, and make people accountable.
What are the non-conventional ways in which you propose to increase the revenue?
We will try to earn some money through non-conventional means. A premium on FSI is an example. Another way is to control expenses. From February 15, I stopped all purchase orders from being placed unless they are important. Some proposals such as that for police vehicles will be sanctioned, but demands for furniture, mattresses, etc, need to be cut. I am trying to get money from Central schemes.
What is the focus in your budget?
Our thrust will be on rural infrastructure, irrigation and employment through skill development. We want to concentrate on skill development where people emerge as job providers and not only seekers. Another area is getting women financially independent through microfinance schemes.
After election year, taxes are usually hiked. How much will it be this time?
When LBT is scrapped, we will have to increase taxes. But for now, there won’t be any major changes. Personally, I am not too pleased with certain amendments or decisions I will be forced to take, but they are necessary for financial stability. But I am happy with the direction and goals of this budget.
The government has proposed several projects for Mumbai and the Make in Maharashtra initiatives. With such constraints how will these projects be given funds?
We have to allot money for infrastructure and my opinion is we should not stop taking loans for capital investment. We will spend on projects, but maybe not as much as we want.