Funds for social services highlight Rajasthan budget
Chief minister Ashok Gehlot presented a seven-point vision for Rajasthan in the budget for 2020-21 presented in the assembly on Thursday, and lamented that a cut in the share of central taxes had shrunk the state’s finances and caused it to pare spending.
Gehlot said the government was dedicated to promoting a nirogi Rajasthan (healthy Rajasthan); farmers’ prosperity; the welfare of women, children and elderly; workers, students and youth; promoting education; improving availability of water and electricity and ensuring better roads; and improving skills.
The allocation for economic services, which include agriculture and rural development, is 25.47% of the total revenue expenditure, around 4 percentage points less than the outlay in 2019-20 when it was 29.51%. There’s a cut of around Rs1,000 crore in the social welfare and nutrition sector. In 2019-20, the government spent Rs12,772.29 crore on this, but in the 2020-21 budget, the provision is for ₹11,191.57 crore.
Gehlot earmarked more money for social services, which include education, medical and health services, water supply and sanitation. In 2019-20, the government spent ₹72,293.69 crore on these services, which was 39.13% of total revenue expenditure. This year’s budget estimate for these services is 41.14% of revenue expenditure.
The CM has also budgeted for more money to be spent on general services, which include interest payments. The budget estimate for this category for 2020-21 is 33.39% of expenditure; it was 29.86% in the revised estimates of 2019-20.
The budget for rural development, the department under deputy CM Sachin Pilot, has been cut from ₹13,872.85 crore to ₹12,867.47 crore. The budget for irrigation, flood control and energy has also been slashed from ₹24,688.19 crore to ₹18127.15 crore.
Gehlot, who holds the finance portfolio, began the budget speech with the refrain that state’s finances were constrained because of a cut in the central share of taxes and a shortfall in the GST collection. He said the state’s share of central taxes was ₹36,049.14 crore, about ₹10,000 crore less than the budget estimate of 2019-20.
After presenting the budget, Gehlot tweeted: “The Budget of #Rajasthan is inclusive one, taking care of all sections of society. We have adopted seven resolutions and we will ensure complete implementation of the same.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party slammed the budget for failing to provide relief to the people. “Recently they have increased electricity tariff to the tune of ~12,000 crore, and provided small relief in terms of stamp and registration duties,” said Gulab Chand Kataria, leader of the Opposition.