In his very first Rs 46,473-crore Budget, Jammu & Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu decided to do away with the distinction of Plan, non-Plan spending, and hoped to meet the state’s expenses through revenues without having to knock at the Centre’s doors with a begging bowl.
Introducing the Budget in the Assembly, Drabu said his government’s aim was to achieve economic self-reliance for the state and its people.
“I shall not seek any financial assistance from the Centre other than what is provided for in the Constitution for all special category states,” Drabu said. He added that he shall not look to Centre’s grants despite the fact that they have a “friendly” government and an “exceptionally sensitive and accommodating Finance Minister” at the Centre.
“By doing so, I hope to restore the dignity of the people of J&K who are forever accused of surviving on subsidies,” Drabu said, adding, “All of us want J&K government to be able to pay not only salaries of its employees, but also for the development of its economy and the prosperity of its people”.
With the state economy in shambles post floods, Drabu said the stance of his Budget was expansionary. “The public expenditure policy will be such that most of the additional increases will be in sectors that fuel growth and bring the economy back on track” he said.
In 2015-16, the total public expenditure is budgeted to be Rs 46,473 crore, of which just a fourth or Rs 11,246 cropper is for building assets and infrastructure; the remaining Rs 35,227 crore is for current or revenue expenditure. Drabu, however, admitted that it should be exactly the other way round. “But there is no way I can help it as it is a legacy of the last 30 years if not more,” he said.
Bifurcating the budget into Receipt Budget and Expenditure Budget, Drabu said that the old classification of plan and non-plan expenditure has been discarded. He said the Expenditure Budget will have two categories — current and capital. While the former would be used to meet the state’s daily expenses, capital would involve spending towards creating assets on the ground.
He said total revenue receipts in 2015-16 is budgeted to be Rs 42,137 crore and added that the resource gap of Rs 4,336 crore would be financed by prepositioning of the 14th Finance Commission grants, without seeking any additional central funding. Drabu endorsed the previous Omar Abdullah government’s memorandum to the Centre, seeking a Rs 43,000 crore assistance for rehabilitation of flood victims.
Other proposals included introducing model business villages with focus on building business and model ethnographic villages to showcase culture. “The first pilot cultural village will be one that was inhabited by Kashmiri Pandits,” he added.