Calling farmers its topmost priority, the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh presented its first Budget on Wednesday, allocating Rs 46,559 crore for agriculture, an increase by 66 per cent over the last budget.
Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot allocated Rs 8,000 crore for the second leg of the farm loan waiver scheme. He said before the Model Code of Conduct was implemented, nearly 20 lakh farmers benefited and loans worth Rs 7,000 crore were waived. The finance minister said that if more funds were required, the government will make provision in the supplementary budget.
Accusing the Congress of taking farmers for a ride, the BJP insisted that the Rs 8,000-crore provision was too less because the scheme would cost the government Rs 48,000 crore. The finance minister has not shed light on how much of the Rs 8,000 crore will be passed on to the banks, BJP state president Rakesh Singh said. He alleged that the government passed on only Rs 1,400 crore out of the first allocation of Rs 5,000 crore for the scheme.
No tax hike was announced in the budget that proposes to increase capital expenditure by 21 per cent.
Bhanot announced that the government will constitute an agriculture advisory council to maintain constant dialogue with farmers’ representatives.
Accusing the BJP of doing little for cows in the last 15 years, the finance minister reiterated three models for development of gaushalas. Under the first model, money will be used from schemes like MGNREGA and other government sources to build 1,000 gaushalas. He allocated Rs 132 crore for building gaushalas. The second model, called corporate, will promote private investment. The third model will involve development of select land parcels available with big temples. The government will also provide Rs 20 each for cows sheltered in existing gaushalas run by voluntary organisations.
Alleging that the central government has failed in comprehensive management of the economy, Bhanot said it will have an adverse impact on the state’s economy. Noting that tax devolution to states was constantly declining, the minister said MP was estimated to get Rs 2,677 crore less from the Centre in 2019-20.