Education and health remained top priority as the Aam Aadmi Party government presented its third budget on Wednesday. The total expenditure for the year 2017-18, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, will be Rs 48,000 crore. Sisodia, who is also the state Finance Minister, added that the government has not levied any new tax.
While 24 % of the budget was earmarked for education, 12% was dedicated to health. In line with the model prescribed by the Centre, Sisodia emphasised on the shift from the traditional system of ‘non-plan and plan budget’ to an ‘outcome budget’.
The government, Sisodia said, has created a set of quantifiable output and outcome indicators based on which the results can be measured.
“The budget is dedicated to the common man and, while preparing for it, we were thinking like a common man and how he plans his budget. This is the first time in the country that any state has come out with an output budget,” said Sisodia, adding that a mobile application will be launched soon to make sure the government is accountable at every step.
“When we allocate money for a skywalk, merely constructing it would not be counted as success. Its success would depend on how many people actually use it. That, in a nutshell, explains the objective of the outcome component,” he said.
Sisodia also took the opportunity to criticise demonetisation and link it to revenue collection in the capital. “The tax has gone down and the revised estimate is now Rs 5,000 crore less due to demonetisation. Despite this, we have not levied any tax. This budget is a contract between the government and the public,” said Sisodia.
The minister said that though demonetisation had hit the economy, the Gross State Domestic Product was likely to increase by 12.76 per cent as compared to the last year.
He said that Delhi’s contribution to India’s GDP has increased from 3.94 per cent in 2011-12 to 4.08 per cent in 2016-17.
The minister also announced a three-fold increase in budget of the Delhi Commission for Women for its “impeccable” work. Ahead of the municipal polls, the government earmarked 15.8 per cent of the total budget, or Rs 7,571 crore, for civic bodies.
Asked if the budget is finalised keeping the municipal elections in mind, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “What is wrong in doing it for municipal polls? At least we are doing something for people, and if people are happy, how does it matter whether we do it because we are eyeing municipal polls or not?”
Sisodia spoke about the hike in minimum wages for the labour sector and about establishing a commission for senior citizens in the coming year to protect their interests. He also said that skill development courses would be started in 10 night shelters.
The government, which failed to spend Rs 350 crore of mohalla sabha funds this year, said it will reutilise the amount next year. The ambitious WiFi project, the minister said, will take time.