Rajasthan Budget 2022: Gehlot announces free electricity, smartphones to women
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot announced a populist budget ahead of the 2023 assembly elections while the opposition called it ‘visionless.’
JAIPUR: Ahead of 2023 assembly elections, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday announced restoration of old pension scheme for government employees, smart phones to 13.3 crore women with three-year internet connection, urban employment guarantee scheme and subsidised electricity for domestic consumers, as he tried to touch every section of the society.
In a revenue deficit budget having fiscal deficit at 4.36% of the state GDP as compared to 3.96% for the current financial year, the CM presented the state’s first separate agriculture budget and announced 11 missions under Mukhya Mantri Krishak Sathi Yojna worth ₹10,000 crore in an attempt to woo farmers, who are about 70% of the state’s population.
In his 4th budget in present tenure, which he presented for 3 hours, Gehlot did not propose any new tax or changes in the present taxation system. The tourism and hospitality sector was proposed to have given industry status.
Gehlot, 19 months before state assembly elections, proposed to increase health cover under state government’s Cheeranjivi Health Insurance Scheme from ₹5 lakh to ₹10 lakh annually per family and providing accident insurance of ₹5 lakh to families under the Mukhyamantri Chiranjivi Accidental Insurance Scheme. He announced a new work from home scheme for 20,000 women, a separate cadre of English medium teachers for Mahatma Gandhi English Medium schools and upgradation of all 3,820 government secondary schools to senior secondary level.
“After seeing the budget, the people will feel the future vision of Rajasthan. Every sector has been taken care of in the budget. Even the opposition BJP is welcoming the budget in their heart. The budget is such that every citizen has to welcome it. No one expected such a budget, especially looking at Corona,” said Gehlot.
To provide financial relief to families, Gehlot announced free electricity up to 50 units to domestic users who consume 100 units every months that would benefit about 11.8 million people from lower income group. He added that subsidy of ₹3 per unit grant will be provided to those consuming 150 units per month and ₹2 per unit for those consuming 150-300 units. “The government will bear the burden of ₹4,500 crore,” the CM said, terming it as a Corona relief.
For government servants, he had two big announcements. First, all employees who have joined after 2004 will have an option to enroll for old pension scheme from next financial year, in which one gets assured pension, and second 7th pay commission to the employees of corporations, boards, and universities.
“We all know that the employees associated with the government services should feel secure about the future, only then they can make their invaluable contribution towards good governance during the service period. Therefore, for all the employees appointed on or after January 1, 2004, I propose to implement the old pension scheme,” he said.
The CM announced implementing the Congress party’s manifesto promise of urban employment scheme, named after Indira Gandhi, on lines of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), ensuring work for 100 days in urban areas. He also said MGNREGA workers would now get 125 days of work in a year, instead of the present 100 days. However, according to the data, only half of the MGNREGA workers get 100 days of work in a year.
In the first agriculture budget, Gehlot announced allocation of ₹5,000 crore for CM Krishak Saathi Yojna, which had ₹2,000 crore allocation in the last budget. 11 missions include Rajasthan Micro Irrigation Mission of ₹2,700 crore; Rajasthan Organic Farming Mission of ₹600 crore, Rajasthan Millets Promotion Mission of ₹100 crore and Rajasthan Protected Cultivation Mission of ₹400 crore. Farmers will get 60% subsidy on installation of solar pumps and government will install 3.38 lakh electricity connections to farmers, under which they get power at subsidised rates.
Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje termed the budget disappointing and said, “The budget is not based on prudent financial policy and is politically oriented, and has no vision. For the first time, a separate agriculture budget is presented but it is mere an eyewash illusion, and a clear picture will be there once the figures are studied.” She added that it has to be seen how the announcements are executed.
Political analyst Manish Godha said it seems to be an election budget and will put immense financial implications on the state exchequer. “It is a populist budget and the CM has tried focusing and catering every section of the society with jobs for youth, phones for women, medical insurance up to ₹10 lakh, free electricity and subsidies,” he said. Rajasthan assembly elections are slated for December 2023.
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