Maharashtra’s interim budget may be ‘farmer-centric’
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar will present the interim budget on Wednesday, without any tax hike or announcement of any populist schemes. With an eye on the Lok Sabha polls and in the backdrop of drought, the budget will, however, be showcased as farmer-centric.
After losing three of the five states on in the elections last year, the Maharashtra government changed its decision to present the full budget and decided to stick to the traditional system of vote-on-account ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The interim budget is an appropriation account for four months, from April to July, until the full budget is presented. The state adopts the interim budget to accommodate expenditure for the Centrally-sponsored schemes, till the time the new government assumes charge.
“There will be no new schemes in the interim budget, although it will be dedicated to farmers. The full budget to be presented in July will have a lot of new schemes for the poor, farmers and youth,” said Mungantiwar on the eve of the interim budget.
According to officials, the Fadnavis government has planned to keep populist schemes reserved for the Assembly elections. “There is a likelihood of major announcements for unemployed youths, sops for farmers to minimise the production cost and schemes of direct benefit transfers to those below the poverty line in the July budget. The government feels populist schemes are the need of Assembly elections,” he said.
With the plan size for the financial year 2019-20 expected to be more than ₹3.2 lakh crore, the interim budget will be about 40% of it, with allocation for both committed and scheme expenditure. “The outlay for some of the departments such as general administration department may be 50% of its annual size owing to election expenditure. Similarly, repayments of loans and interests are likely to be more than the proportionate size in the first quarter of the financial year,” said an official from the finance department.
The finance minister is expected to summarise the ongoing schemes for farmers and relief package extended to farmers in loan waivers, drought package in his speech. The 16-page speech is likely to last for 30 minutes. Mungantiwar said the decision on widening the loan waiver scheme, as demanded by the Shiv Sena or waiving the property tax on smaller flats, will be taken by the cabinet.
Lucky number 9 for Finance Minister
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has been presenting his budget on the dates that add up to his lucky number 9. He has presented his four budgets on March 9 or 18 all these years. This time it is on February 27.
After approving the highest-ever budget for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) last year, Mumbaiites can expect major allocations for the 13 lines planned in and around the metropolitan region, the Mumbai-trans harbour link and Virar-Alibaug multi-modal corridor from the authority’s budget today. In an election year, MMRDA is expected to open its purse strings for all major projects. In 2018-19, MMRDA had presented a budget of ₹12,157 crore, with ₹4,700 crore for Metro works.