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Himachal Pradesh govt levies cess on liquor to run gaushalas

Rs 41,440 crore outlay: Three irrigation schemes announced, 15% temple offerings to go for maintaining cowsheds, 28 new schemes for students, women, unemployed.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2018 10:38 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
cess on liquor,cow sheds,maintenance of cow sheds
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur presenting the budget at the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha in Shimla on Friday. (HT Photo)

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday tabled Rs 41,440 crore revenue deficit budget for the year 2018-19 with a thrust on agriculture sector and developing new tourist destinations in the state and announced 28 new schemes for the welfare of students, women and the unemployed.

Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, in his maiden budget announced to levy Rs 1 cess (to be called ‘Gau vansh vikas cess) on the sale of every bottle of liquor to generate revenue for the maintenance of gaushalas (cow shelters) in the state.

He also announced to amend the HP Religious Endowments and Temple Trust Act to make way for utilising 15% of temple offerings for maintaining cowsheds. “It is for the first time that 28 new schemes have been announced in the budget,” said Thakur, who admitted that precarious financial condition of the state was a big challenge for his government.

Of a total of Rs 41,440 crore budget this time, an estimated Rs 11,263 crore (27%) will be spent on salaries and Rs 5,893 crore (14.22%) on pensions. The budget has only 39% fund allocation for development works.

Financial health

Thakur blamed the previous Congress government led by Virbhadra Singh for poor fiscal health of the state.

The debt burden on the state, which was Rs 19, 977 crore in 2007, had gone up to Rs 27,598 crore in 2012 when the BJP government was ousted by the Congress from power. During the Congress’ 2013- 2017 regime, the debt burden increased from Rs 27,598 crore to Rs 46,385 crore. Thakur in his budget speech also blamed the Congress for the sluggish growth estimated for the current fiscal.

However, the state succeeded in containing the revenue deficit rate in the current fiscal.

Agriculture and horticulture

Thakur said the government has laid more thrust on the farm sector, underlining the need for extending irrigation facilities in the state. He announced flow irrigation, solar irrigation and ‘Jal se krishi ko bal’ schemes, allocating Rs 600 crore for the same.

He said 60% subsidy will be provided for buying anti-hail guns and 33% subsidy for buying pick-up vans to encourage waste collection in rural areas. He said a cow policy will be framed and implemented for the promotion of ‘desi’ (indigenous) cows. The Rs 1 cess on a liquor bottle will generate Rs 8 crore in revenue.

Besides, the government has also initiated schemes to promote zero budget farming.

PWD and IPH

The government plans to bring the public works department (PWD) and the irrigation and public health (IPH) under the ambit of e-governance and e-monitoring system. Both the departments will implement the works management information system wherein the status of all works from the tendering stage to completion will be updated on real-time basis. The CM and the minister concerned will regularly monitor the process. All tenders above Rsn 5 lakh will be carried out online using the e-procurement portal.

Health

The government has initiated new schemes and provided more funds for the existing ones. The CM medical assistance funds will be set up to provide assistance to the poor with serious ailments. The newborns will be provided with a kit worth Rs 1,500. The state government will implement this scheme for the beneficiaries covered under the ‘Mukhya Mantri State Health Care Scheme’.

Ease of doing business, industries

The state government will launch ‘Him Pragti’ online monitoring system wherein projects on power, industry, tourism and other infrastructure will be monitored by the CM to ensure faster clearances and approvals from all departments. All mining sites will be allotted through online competitive bidding. The government has slashed electricity duty from 4% to 2% for existing small industries, from 10% to 7% for medium industrial units besides waiving electricity duty for new small and medium industrial units for the first five years.

Youth and jobs

The CM announced a new scheme ‘Mukhya Mantri Swavlamban Yojna’ under which the state youth aged between 18 and 35 will be provided certain benefits such as 25% capital subsidy on plant and machinery up to an investment of ₹40 lakh in industries. He also announced reduction in stamp duty on purchasing a private plot for business purpose from 6% to 3%. He announced to continue with the skill development allowance scheme started by previous government.

Education

Students of Class 3, 6 and 9 will be provided school bags. A new scheme has been announced under which one model residential school will be established in each constituency, where Navodya and Eklavya schools do not exist. Free education and hostel facility will be provided at these schools. The government will design syllabus to teach yoga in the state schools, the CM said. The CM also proposed ₹110 crore grant-in-aid to Himachal Pradesh University (HPU), Shimla.

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 16:36 IST