THE DEVENDRA Fadnavis government on Wednesday presented a revenue deficit Interim Budget of Rs 19,784 crore before the state Assembly, while allotting Rs 9,566 crore for the irrigation sector, with a focus on Vidarbha and Marathwada and the drought-hit regions.
As against the revenue receipts of Rs 3,14,489 crore, revenue expenditure has been estimated at Rs 3,34,273 crore, resulting in the deficit of Rs 19,784 crore.
The financial constraints of providing Rs 24,000 crore for implementing Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, coupled with allocations for drought mitigation, were cited as the primary reasons for the deficit. Officials said the state’s growing expenditure will have to be relooked and drastic measures taken to explore new avenues of revenue mobilisation.
What has compounded the fiscal challenge is the government’s decision to emphasise on mega projects across key sectors, namely agriculture and social, to address urban and rural constituents in the election year. The total expenditure in these sectors is around Rs 22,814 crore.
After Finance Minister Sudhir Muntangiwar presented the Budget, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told mediapersons, “The Budget reiterates government’s commitment to accord highest priority to welfare schemes for upliftment of farmers, poverty alleviation and generating employment for youths.” The thrust of the Budget is the development for each and every segment, including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, for whom Rs 9,208 crore and Rs 8,431 crore have been allocated, respectively, he added.
While the Budget shows that the government has refrained from announcing populist new schemes, it has made higher allocations for its flagship projects. For the housing for all project, the government has sanctioned Rs 6,895 crore. It plans to complete 22 lakh houses — 12 lakh in rural and 10 lakh in urban areas — by 2022.
While maintaining that initiatives will be taken to control the deficit, Mungantiwar told mediapersons, “We are taking drastic measures to cut unnecessary expenditure, while tapping unconventional methods to recover the huge revenue deficit, which is stuck in legal wrangle.”
Expressing satisfaction over the increased revenue collection post introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST), the minister said: “An amnesty scheme for settlement of pending and disputed taxes, interest, fines and late fees under various acts is being proposed. It will benefit traders and also help the government recover pending taxes.”
He added that in 2018-19 Budget, the revenue deficit stood at Rs 14,960 crore. While the revenue receipts then was
Rs 2,86,500 crore, expenditure was Rs 3,01,460 crore. “Whereas, the 2017-18 Budget had a surplus of Rs 2,082 crore. As against the expected revenue receipt of Rs 90,000 crore, actual revenue received was Rs 1,15,000 crore,” Mungantiwar said.
Meanwhile, the state allocated Rs 1,021 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Arogya Yojana and Rs 2,098 crore for the National Health Mission. Various social schemes for the upliftment of Vimukti Jati, nomadic tribes, other backward class and special backward class saw allocation of Rs 2,892 crore. Extending food subsides to the above poverty line category, especially in 14 drought-hit districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada, the government allocated Rs 896 crore. Rice at Rs 3 and wheat at Rs 2 per kg will be made available to the affected population. Further, financial aid of Rs 572 crore would be provided to students from economically weaker sections who are pursuing higher professional studies.
Budget session may be curtailed over India-Pak tension
The ongoing Budget session is likely to be curtailed following growing India-Pakistan tension. Security concerns are being cited as the primary reason. The session began on February 25 and was end on March 2.
A formal decision is expected after an all-party meeting on Thursday. Earlier, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had convened a meeting of party members, along with top police officers, to discuss security concerns. The Vidhan Bhawan, where the session is underway, is also among the high security zones.