Arrear bonanza for employees
Shimla: Refraining from imposing fresh taxes to meet the widening resource gap, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today presented a tax free budget here by intending to meet the uncovered proposed expenditure by raising Rs 2249 crores through borrowings.
Presenting his fourth budget of the second term in office, Dhumal who also holds the finance portfolio, estimated the 2011-12 expenditure at Rs 16,708.47 crore which included Rs 5881.66 Cr (35.2%) on salaries, Rs 2210 Cr (13.23%) on pensions, Rs 2150.58 Cr (12.87%) on interest payments and Rs 960.84 Cr (5.75%) on loan repayments.
While the total revenues for the year is estimated at Rs 14093.51 Crore, Dhumal closed the budget with a surplus of Rs 345.89 crore after having shown an opening balance of Rs 334.02 crore.
Expecting the GSDP to record a growth of 9 % in the current year, the 2011-12 annual plan has been pegged at Rs 3300 crore.
As part of states own taxes, the government estimates to raise Rs 709.74 Cr from state excise and Rs 244.27 crore from sales tax, which would be an increase of Rs 527.17 Cr over last year under these heads.
Whereas state own taxes are estimated to increase from 3406.68 Cr in 2010-11 to Rs 4039.82 cr, the share in central taxes is estimated to increase to Rs 2060.67 Cr over Rs 1715.35 Cr from the current year.
To help the rich and the poor combat food inflation, the scheme for providing subsidized dals, edible oils and salt to above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line BPL families would continue.
Out of the about Rs 1900 crore pay arrears for employees and pensioners, the budget made a provision of paying out Rs 550 crores, clearing all arrears due for class IV employees, 40 % arrear dues for class III employees, 30 % for officers and 40 % to all pensioners.
Outlay for education is Rs 3164.54 crore, which is an increase of 597.54 crore over the previous year. The chief minister proposed to set up a new Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government Institute of Engineering and Technology at Pragiti Nagar in Shimla district and the YS Parmar Horticlutre University, Solan would open a bio-technology and environment science institute in Hamirpur district.
Banking on power to mop up additional revenues, the government expects 2016 MW of additional generation capacity to be commissioned in 2010-11. Outlay for power sector has been increased to Rs 461.60 crore.
Intended as a nodal agency for sustainable development, Dhumal proposed for setting up Aryabhatta geo-informatics and space application center at Shimla.
For development of tourism infrastructure, a Rs 428 crore Asian Development Bank (ADB) assisted project and for agriculture, a Rs 321 crore Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded projects found mention in the minister budget speech.
The apple rejuvenation project is proposed to be extended to an additional 1000 hectares and for improving marketing facilities, a fruit and vegetable wholesale market is planned to be set up in Shimla district.
On jobs front, 5000 new teachers, 1600 clerks are to be recruited and contract or daily wager employees with 8 years of service are to be regularized.
The schedule caste and tribal sub plan has been increased to Rs 1113 crore and an additional 25,000 eligible applicants are to be brought under social security pension scheme.
Photo by Amit Kanwar