Polls on mind, Jai Ram gives push to rural devp
15 NEW SCHEMES At ₹44,387cr, this year’s estimate is 7% more than last fiscal POPULIST Journos to get laptops, wages of anganwadi workers hiked
SHIMLA: Eyeing electoral gains in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented a ₹44,387-crore populist budget with prime focus on farmers, youth, employees,women and social sector.
In his second budget, Jai Ram Thakur introduced 15 new schemes. The budget estimate was 7% higher than that of the last fiscal.
Thakur said the revenue receipts for 2019-20 are estimated to be ₹33,747 crore while the expenditure will likely be ₹36,089 crore. “The revenue deficit will be ₹2,342 crore while the fiscal deficit is estimated to be at ₹7,352 crore,” said Thakur. This gap will be made good through net borrowings estimated to be worth ₹5,069 crore during the year. No new taxes have been proposed.
As per the estimates, the state’s economy is expected to grow at a rate of 7.3% during the year 2019-20 as compared to 6.5% in the last fiscal, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur stated. The state gross domestic product is expected to be ₹1,51,835 crore during the year, which is 11.1% higher than the last financial year.
To woo the rural population in the state, which account for more than 80% of the population, Thakur announced a ₹4,751 crore budget for a project that promises to double the farmer’s income through water conservation and other activities. The project will be funded by Asian Development Bank. The CM also announced 50% subsidy for installing barbed wire or chain link fence in farms.
Under the Sampurna Swasthya Yojana in 12 medical institutions across 12 districts will be upgraded. Patients hailing from economically weaker sections and suffering from ailments such as Parkinson’s, cancer, paralysis, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, thalassemia and renal failure will get ₹2,000 per month. The government has also enhanced the diet allowance for AIDS patients from ₹800 per month to ₹1,500 per month, besides announcing a trauma centres on Baddi Barotiwalla and Shimla Kalka highways.
Jai Ram Thakur proposed to set up a Sanskrit University in the state. Thakur announced that para teachers who have completed more than three years of the service will be eligible for the pay equivalent to regular teachers, besides dearness allowance.
Though no new scheme was launched in the tourism sector, government has announced to come up with a new tourism policy for holistic development and promotion of eco-tourism. A “Shiv Dham” will be established in Mandi where replicas of 12 jyotirlingas will be established.
Reiterating commitment for welfare of employees, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said the government will notify new pay scales after Punjab Pay Commission gives its recommendations. Contribution of the state government under the New Pension Scheme was also increased to 14%. Earlier it was 10%. Dearness allowance to the employees and dearness relief to the pensioners of the state government at the rate of 4% will be provided from July 1, 2018.
The policy to provide job on compassionate grounds was also changed and the age limit increased from existing 50 years to age or retirement.
Hydel projects with installed capacity of about 500 MW are expected to be commissioned. These include 100 MW Uhl-III and 111 MW Sawara-Kuddu.
The two projects will generate additional 700MW units of power per year. State will also get additional 200 million units of power after commissioning of Renuka project, which has been declared a project of national importance. 850 new distributions sub-centers will be set up by the state electricity board to provide new connections and improve voltage.
Ten MW capacity rooftop solar power plants are also proposed to be installed. The government will spend ₹475 crore on power subsidy to domestic consumer.
Himachal chief minister Jai Ram Thakur along with finance department officials arriving to present the budget at the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha in Shimla on Saturday. DEEPAK SANSTA/HT