Himachal CM Jai Ram Thakur before the budget presentation in Himachal Vidhan Sabha on Saturday. (DEEPAK SANSTA/HT)
Himachal CM Jai Ram Thakur before the budget presentation in Himachal Vidhan Sabha on Saturday. (DEEPAK SANSTA/HT)

Jai Ram presents 50,192 cr tax-free budget for Himachal

At a time when the state’s economy has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented a 50,192-crore budget with no new taxes, on Saturday
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 12:58 AM IST

At a time when the state’s economy has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented a 50,192-crore budget with no new taxes, on Saturday.

With the total revenue receipts estimated to be 37,028 crore and total expenditure to be 38,491 crore, the total revenue deficit is estimated to be 1,463 crore. As per the revised estimates for 2020-21, the total revenue deficit for the previous year was 423 crore.

With this, the state’s debt burden will now increase to 60, 544 crore.

Presenting the fourth budget of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, Jai Ram said, “The guiding principal of this budget is ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, which will be the spirit in the coming years also.” He added that the 2021-22 budget is a reflection of people’s aspirations as well as the resolve of the government to continue the pace of development despite the economic ill-effects, brought about by the pandemic.

The CM further said that the budget this year will focus on women empowerment, expansion of social security net, strengthening and expansion of health services, employment creation, increasing farmers’ income and improving the quality of education.

HP’s economy to register negative growth of -6.2%

Heaping praises on the Centre for its efforts to bring the economy back on track, Jai Ram said that according to estimates, Himachal’s economy will register a negative growth of -6.2%, which is 1.5% better than the national average.

He added that the per capita income of the state will likely be 1, 83, 286, which is 56,318 higher than the national per capita income.

MLALAD fund restored, MLAs to get full salary from April 1

The CM said that the MLA Local Area Development Fund, which was suspended in wake of Covid-19 outbreak last year, will be fully restored from April 1, with a hike of 5 lakh. It has been increased from 1.75 crore to 1.80 crore. Besides, the salaries and allowances of legislators, which were cut by 30% in wake of the pandemic, will also be restored, he added.

9,405 cr outlay for development activities

Announcing an outlay of 9,405 crore for development activities, the CM said the planning department of the state government will be renamed as Niti Vibhag. The grant received from NABARD, under the rural infrastructure development fund, for MLA priority schemes has been enhanced from 120 crore to 135 crore.

Digitisation plans

The CM said the government will focus on digitisation of services and video conferencing facilities will be made available to panchayats and urban local bodies at a cost of 60 crores. He also announced that the number of services on Himachal online portal will be increased from 65 to 80. The state schemes will also be brought under the public finance management system and a beneficiary data system will be set up.

Women welfare and empowerment

The CM also announced several welfare schemes for women. These include a social security pension of 1,000 per month for elderly women in the age group of 65-69 years under “Swaran Jayanti Nari Sambal Yojana” and Shagun scheme, under which 31,000 will be given to girls belonging to SC, ST, OBC and BPL families at the time of marriage. Besides, BPL families, having two girl children, will be given a post-birth grant of 21,000 as fix deposit. Gas cylinder refills will be given to 3 lakh families under the ‘Himachal Grihani Suvidha Yojana’. Women help desks will be established at 136 police stations and 25% reservation will be given to women for recruitment in police force.

Agriculture and horticulture

To make high-density fruit plants available at reasonable prices, the ‘Swaran Jayanti Smridh Bagwan Yojana’ will be started, the CM announced. Agriculture Produce Protection (anti-hail net) scheme will continue with an outlay of 60 crore. JICA-funded crop diversification scheme will be extended to all 12 districts by spending 1,055 crore. For promoting research in horticulture and agriculture, a research fund of 5 crore will be set up for Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University, Palampur, and Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni. Under World Bank-funded horticulture development scheme, five lakh fruit plants will be imported. Besides, small irrigation schemes for 8, 000 hectare command area will be developed and a gene repository will be established at the horticulture university in Nauni. An apple juice concentrate line will also be established in Parala plant of Shimla district.

A total of 50,000 new farmers will be brought under ‘Prakritik Kheti Khushhaal Kisaan Yojana, the CM said. Milk procurement price would be increased by 2 per litre. An expert panel will be formed to restructure various schemes and enhance income of the farmers. A total of 543 crore have been allocated to horticulture sector.

Employment generation

The CM said 100 crore would be spent on expansion in the scope of “Mukhya Manti Swavlamban Yojna. About 7,000 unemployed youth will be provided employment in private sector. “Our government has set a target of filling up 30,000 functional posts in various departments,” he said.

Quality education

An outlay of 8,024 crore has been proposed for the education sector.

Welcoming the “National Education Policy 2020” and expressing a resolve to implement it, Jai Ram said a ‘Top-100 Scholarship Scheme’ will soon be started in the state and 100 math labs will be set up in schools. Coaching and career counselling for government school students will also be started. “Him Darpan Shiksha Ekikrit Portal” would be set up to make the education system more effective. Hundred cluster schools, 68 senior secondary schools and nine colleges will be brought under “Swaran Jayanti Gyanoday Cluster Utkrisht Vidyalaya Yojana” while eight technical education institutions are to be set up with an outlay of 400.

Health

The government has allocated 3,016 crore for health services. Among the major plans for the health sector are the installation of a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan facility at Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, Shimla, for cancer patients. Apart from this, CT Scan and MRI machines would be set up in Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda. MRI machines will also be provided to hospitals in Hamirpur and Nahan medical college by spending 70 crore. The CM said a super speciality hospital in Chamiyana, Shimla, is being built at a cost of 278 crore and it will be made functional in the current fiscal year itself. In addition to this, a new OPD block and trauma centre are being constructed at a cost of 103 crore and 25 crore at IGMC Shimla. These will also become operational this year. He said 772 crore will be spent to provide services and infrastructure development at the state’s medical and dental colleges.

“We will be spending 250 crore under the Aayushman Bharat, HIMCARE, Mukhyamantri Chikitsa Sahayata Kosh, Free Medicines, Sahara, Samman, Nikshay Poshan Yojana and other health-related welfare schemes,” chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said.

To curb blindness and other vision related ailments among children, the chief minister announced ‘Mission Drishti’, covering government school students from Class-VI to Class-X. The honorarium of ASHA workers will be enhanced by 750 per month, he added.

Social security

A total of 6, 60, 000 beneficiaries will be provided social security pension by incurring an expenditure of 1,050 crore. Forty thousand new beneficiaries will be added to the social security pension schemes by spending additional amount of 60 crore, the CM said.

Infrastructure and industrial development

Wayside amenities, Himachali Handicraft and traditional products sale centres will be developed near Atal Tunnel. Five thousand part-time multi task workers will be engaged for maintenance of roads. The chief minister said that ground breaking of MoUs worth 10,000 crore signed during the Global Investors’ Meet-2019 will be held soon. A bulk drug park in Una and an electronics and power equipment manufacturing hub will be established in Nalagarh. Toy manufacturing clusters will also be set up. Under PMGSY, 3, 125 major rural roads will be upgraded.

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