In its first budget after coming to power in Gujarat, the Vijay-Rupani-led BJP government focussed on youth by giving impetus to employment generation with a string of freebies for students. While presenting the Rs 1.83 lakh crore budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year in the Assembly Tuesday, Deputy CM Nitin Patel, who holds the finance portfolio, said that in order to “realise the dream of New Gujarat, it was important that young boys and girls of Gujarat get adequate job opportunities”.
However, opposition Congress MLAs disrupted his speech over issues of minimum support price (MSP) to farmers on groundnut purchase and cutting off of Narmada water supply for irrigation, before walking out of the Assembly. Within 10 minutes of his speech, Congress MLA from Visavadar Harshad Ribadiya stood up from his seat and started raising his voice interrupting Patel’s speech. As Patel said that his government was giving “highest priority” to the agriculture sector and is “providing liberal support to farmers through the mechanism of minimum support price for various crops like groundnuts, cotton”, Ribadiya entered the well of the House and threw peanuts. He was immediately joined by other Congress MLAs who raised slogans like “Narmada ka Pani, Pi Gaya Rupani.”
As Speaker Rajendra Trivedi ordered marshals to take Ribadiya out of the House, Congress MLAs walked out of the House amid slogan-shouting. Smarting from the impact of the Patidar quota agitation and the Congress’s election plank which focussed on joblessness in the state, the BJP government announced to create employment opportunities for 7.5 lakh youth. “Total provisions of Rs 785 crore has been made in the budget to provide ample opportunities of employment and vocations to the youth of Gujarat. This will create employment opportunities for about 3.50 lakh youth. Also, in addition to this, about four lakh youth will get employment opportunities in various private units through the rojgar melas,” Patel said in his speech.
The government also introduced a Mukhyamantri Apprenticeship Yojana under which youth who join the industry be it factories, hotels, hospitals, as apprentice will get a special amount as “encouragement” from the state government. In a move that will touch 63 lakh students in the state, the government has allocated Rs 15 crore for providing free of cost mathematics workbook to 42 lakh students of class III to VIII, and science workbooks to an additional 21 lakh students of Class VI to VIII. An additional Rs 64 crore has also been allocated to provide free bicycles to 1.84 lakh girls.
The budget has also given significant focus to the health sector for which it has allocated total Rs 9,750 crore. The government has increased the scope of its flagship health schemes Mukhyamantri Amrutam Yojana and Ma-Vatsalya Yojana by allocating Rs 700 crore. The annual income limit to avail benefits of the schemes has been increased from Rs 2.5 lakh per annum to Rs 3 lakh per annum.