UP’s 1st paperless budget likely to boost infra projects before 2022 polls
- A sum of up to ₹50,000 was earmarked for every legislator to buy an iPad to ensure they were able to access and upload documents in the state Assembly.
Uttar Pradesh on Monday will become the first state in the country to present a paperless budget, which is likely to see an increase in size to meet the dual objectives of mitigating the negative economic impact of Covid-19 and addressing the populist concerns ahead of the all important 2022 Assembly elections in the state, said officials and experts.
“Yes, the state government may increase the size of the State Budget. Revised estimates may, however, bring the same close to or less than the size of 2020-21,” said Yashvir Tyagi, former professor at the department of economics, Lucknow University.
However, mobilising resources will not be easy since revenue in the first few months of financial year 2020-21 declined considerably due to Covid-19, forcing an increase in VAT (Value Added Tax) on petrol and diesel and excise duty. This will be the last full-fledged budget before the 2022 assembly elections. Yogi Adityanath government had presented the largest-ever annual budget totalling ₹512,860.72 crore in 2020-21--an increase of 6.9% against the previous year. The size of the budget is likely to be close to ₹5.25 lakh crore or ₹5.50 lakh crore, if not more, said experts. Minister for finance Suresh Khanna, too, hinted at the budget’s size increasing this year despite challenges on the resource mobilisation front.
Large allocations for infrastructure projects like the Ganga Expressway and the metro project is likely apart from other existing projects/schemes.
“Announcements in the budget are political compulsions for any government. The state government should, however, follow the Union government and come out with a pre-budget economic survey and outcome budget to make the people aware of the impact of the budget on the state’s economy,” said Tyagi.
The government is also likely to restore the Vidhayak Nidhi or the MLA LAD (local area development) funds that was suspended for one year as a slew of measures undertaken to mobilise resources to fight Covid-19.
Although minister for finance Suresh Khanna recently parried a question in this regard, he may make an announcement in his budget speech.
In another milestone, Uttar Pradesh will become the first state in the country following the example of the Union government to present a paperless budget.
A sum of up to ₹50,000 was earmarked for every legislator to buy an iPad. They have been trained to upload questions in the Assembly or download material using it. A special app, 'Uttar Pradesh Sarkar Ka Budget', has also been built and made available on iOS and Android platforms.
“Yes, the budget will be completely paperless. Our staff will be there to help the legislators if they face any problem,” said principal secretary (parliamentary affairs) JP Singh.
The budget can also be downloaded from the state assembly’s website or the state government’s budget website, said a senior officer.
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