Shimla: Notwithstanding the mounting state debt liabilities, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today presented a tax free budget, even as the government announced ambitious plans to enhance capital outlay for education, health, water supply and sanitation.
The chief minister in his hour long budget speech mentioned that against the much hyped Rs 30,000 crore industrial investment claim made by the previous government, a mere 11 percent or Rs 3374 crore of investment had taken place in the state.
Dhumal, who also holds the finance portfolio, estimated the budget expenditure for 2008-09 at Rs 12,542.15 crore out of which 2814.08 crore is proposed to be met from borrowings and an additional Rs 300 crore through incurring public debt.
On the revenue side against a receipt estimate of Rs 9398 crore, the expenditure is expected to touch Rs 9328 crore, leaving a surplus of Rs 70 crore. The fiscal deficit is expected to be 5.4 percent of the gross state domestic product.
After including the net additional borrowing of Rs 1003 crore in 2007-08, the total accumulated debt of the state has risen to Rs 22,930 crore.
However, given the financial constraints, the chief minister has proposed an hefty hike in capital expenditure increasing it from Rs 1098 crore in the current fiscal to Rs 1931 crore for 2008-09.
The budget proposes to spend Rs 197 crore on capital works on schools and colleges, which includes new class rooms, science labs and other infrastructure needs. For the current year the budget provision is only Rs 81.26 crore, said Dhumal.
The budget makes a provision for setting up a science college as a centre of excellence institution. The chief minister proposed an scholarship scheme of Rs 900 for 10,000 pre-matric students of other backward classes from the next financial year.
For completing various pending capital works of health institutions, the budget proposes an enhanced outlay of Rs 104 crore for next year, against an provision of Rs 33.67 crore for the current year. At the same time the government abolished the token â€˜Parchi feeâ€™ for patients availing medical services.
Withdrawing the last governments proposals of having a government medical college at Mandi, the budget envisages setting up three medical colleges in the private sector at Mandi, Hamirpur and Una.
For rural water supply, the total outlay marked is Rs 325 crore, of which Rs 155 Cr is from the state plan and the remaining through central funding. The outlay for Panchayati Raj institutions has been increased from Rs 87 Cr to Rs 131 Cr and for Urban bodies from Rs 57 Cr to Rs 98 Cr.
The budget for the scheduled caste sub-plan has been enhanced from Rs 231 crore to Rs 594 crore.
To keep the loss making state transport services afloat the government provided a budgetary support of Rs 95 crore for 2008-09.
Against an investment of Rs 761.74 crore in 23 public sector undertakings (PSU), by end of 2006-07 the accumulative loss had touched Rs 977.78 crore. In 2006-07 the PSU losses of Rs 52.12 crore had more than doubled from Rs 20.94 crore that was accounted for in 2005-06.
To make the dairy farming remunerative, the government announced increasing of procurement rate by Rs 2 per litre.
The government announced a 5 percent interim relief for employees which would cost the state exchequer Rs 300 crore. Dhumal announced plans filling up of 26,000 functional posts which included 18,000 teachers, 3000 policemen, 250 doctors, 85 ayurvedic doctors, 1000 nurses and creating an ecology and disaster management battalion of 1000 personnel.
As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post.
Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.