Ranchi: With an eye on two elections — the general election in May and state assembly polls in December — the JMM-Congress government doled out sops to the poor in the budget.
The government on Friday tabled a budget of Rs 50,387 crore for 2014-15 fiscal, up 31% over the outgoing fiscal. The total plan size has risen by 49% to `26,754 crore.
“We have focused on the poor and the rural folks in my first budget,” finance minister Rajendra Prasad Singh told HT after tabling the budget amid sloganeering opposition.
The opposition, mainly BJP legislators, was demanding a probe by a special investigation team into the 2012 Rajya Sabha horse trading case, citing new revelations carried by HT in its Friday edition.
The state government, probably for the first time in its 14-year history, presented a budget with a plan size higher than the non-plan size. According to the finance minister, it will benefit the rural poor, farmers, small entrepreneurs, girl students, auto industry workers and panchayat mukhiyas.
“The state would now pay for treatment costs up to `2.5 lakh, compared with `1.5 lakh so far, for the critically ill poor patients. The beneficiaries will include people above poverty line,”
About 40,000 women health workers (Sahiyas) would now get additional `100 from the state apart from the ` 350 paid per institutional delivery under National Rural Health Mission.
Reaching out to the 4,423 panchayat mukhiyas of the state, the budget has earmarked `10 lakh each under a new scheme named Mukhya Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana for rural roads. While farmers having Kisan Credit Card can now get loan at 2% instead of 3.5%, entrepreneurs would get 2% interest subvention on loans up to Rs 25 lakh.
To get over the problem of cycles not reaching girl students and sahiyas, the state would toe the path shown by direct benefit transfer and would transfer the funds directly to the beneficiaries.
To promote education among the girl child, every district would get a women’s college. Each district will also have a blood bank and a burn unit, said Singh.
For the 70,000-odd workers in the auto parts sector (there are several auto and engineering firms in the state), the VAT (sales tax) on motor parts has been slashed to 5% from 10%.
“This would create jobs for thousands of auto parts workers in the state and it would check migration,” he said.