The poll-bound Shivraj Singh Chauhan government in MP has presented a please-all budget that mostly focuses on quelling the rising discontent in villages with a slew of sops to farmers. The FY19 budget presented by finance minister Jayant Malaiya in the Assembly on Wednesday does not propose any increase in levies, but allocates Rs 37,498 crore for the agriculture sector, a 17 per cent increase over the past budget. Besides, Rs 10,928 crore has been earmarked to rev up the irrigation facilities.
The Rs 2,04,642.44-crore FY19 budget estimates a fiscal deficit of Rs 26,780.25 crore, and a net expenditure of Rs 1,86,685.24 crore, which will leave a revenue surplus of Rs 262.55 crore. He also said Rs 3,650 crore is earmarked for launching Krishak Samridhi Yojana (farmers betterment scheme). It’s not that the budget is all rural-centric. The minister has also offered a slew of sops to the working class.
It seeks to raise the limit on levying professional tax to Rs 2.25 lakh per annum from Rs 1.80 lakh, and brought down the levy from Rs 2,500 to Rs 1,500. But for those with Rs 3 lakh annual income, the levy would be Rs 2,500. He has also offered relief in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 in professional tax to other salaried groups. The budget has not announced any increase or decrease in other levies as well.
It can be noted that Madhya Pradesh, which is going to the polls by the year-end, has been witnessing violent protest by farmers for some time and last June five protesting farmers were killed in police firing at Mandsaur district. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and senior BJP leader and a former Union finance minister Yashwant Singh were also taking part in farmers protest in many parts of the state.
On the Rs 3,650-crore Krishak Samridhi Yojana, Malaiya said under the scheme, around 9 lakh farmers will be paid Rs 200 a quintal for their paddy and wheat. “The scheme is aimed at encouraging cultivators to boost paddy and wheat production,” he said. It can be noted that farmers in the western region of the state had protested last June primarily seeking a satisfactory price for their produce. In protest, they had thrown their produce onto the roads.
The minister said the state is working hard to double the income of farmers in the next five years. The only main developmental work mentioned in the budget is the Bhopal and Indore metro projects. Though the minister said works on these two metro projects will begin this year, he has not made any budgetary provisions. Talking to reporters after presenting the budget, Malaiya said the state’s public debt stood at Rs 1,44,950 crore, but this is still under the cap set by the Centre.
When asked about the revenue loss owing to GST, he said the Centre has promised 14 per cent increase in fund allocation considering 2014-15 as base year, so that there would be no revenue shortfall to the state. Malaiya estimated that the lower VAT on petrol and diesel will lead to revenue loss of Rs 2,000 crore annually.
The budget seeks to spend Rs 1,86,685.24 crore, with a fiscal deficit of Rs 26,780.25 crore, but the minister said this is within the prescribed 3.25 per cent of the state’s Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of 2005.