In election year Himachal s budget focuses on agriculture job creation

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Shimla, March 4

 In an election year, the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh led by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday presented a budget of Rs 51,365 crore for 2022-23 with the focus on the agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry sectors, the state's mainstay, with a promise to create 30,000 jobs and no new taxes.

In the populist but deficit budget, Thakur, who holds the finance portfolio, announced a reduction in the eligibility for old age pension from 65 to 60 years, irrespective of income criteria.

He announced that social security pension was being given to 6.35 lakh people and 40,000 new pensioners would be added to the list.

He announced to increase the monthly old age pension from Rs 1,001 to Rs 1,500 and to increase the Member of Legislative Assembly Local Area Development Scheme (MLALAD) fund from Rs 1.80 crore to Rs 2 crore.

The honorarium of urban and rural local bodies, anganwari workers and Asha workers has been increased.

"According to the revised estimates for 2021-22, the total revenue receipts are Rs 37,312 crore and the total revenue expenditure is estimated to be Rs 37,034 crore. Thus there is a revenue surplus estimated at Rs 278 crore.

"According to the budget estimates for 2022-23, the total revenue receipts are expected to Rs 36,375 crore and the revenue expenditure is estimated as Rs 40,278 crore. The revenue deficit is estimated to be Rs 3,903 crore.

"The fiscal deficit is expected to be Rs 9,602 crore which is 4.98 per cent of the state's Gross Domestic Product. The budget does not propose new taxes. We will ensure that adequate resources are arranged with effective tax compliance, cooperation of the government of India and better financial management," said Thakur.

According to the budget, out of every Rs 100, Rs 26 will be spent on salaries, Rs 15 on pension, Rs 10 on interest payment, Rs 11 on loan repayment, Rs 9 for grants for autonomous bodies, while the remaining Rs 29 will be spent on other activities, including capital works.

He said the state's economy is expected to grow at 8.3 per cent during 2021-22. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, this increase is a big achievement of the government. The excise and tax collections had risen by 15 per cent to Rs 9,282 crore.

According to the Advance Estimates for 2021-22, Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is expected to be Rs 175,173 crore. The estimates also indicate that the per capita income in the state will be Rs 201,854 crore, which is Rs 51,528 crore higher than the estimated per capita income at the national level.

An outlay of Rs 12,921 crore is proposed for development expenditure in 2022-23, the Chief Minister said. "Out of this, Rs 9,524 crore is proposed for the state development budget. An outlay of Rs 2,400 crore is proposed for Scheduled Caste Development Programme and Rs 856 crore is proposed for Tribal Area Development Programme."

Expressing his gratitude to the House, the first-time Chief Minister said it was a matter of pride and joy that he had learned many new things during this period.

"The last two years have been unexpectedly challenging for us because before this no government had to face the pandemic and the global recession together.

"This pandemic affected all aspects of our lives. We had to fight on all fronts together. In this tenure, while patiently facing the financial constraints, we have tried to serve all the sections of society, especially those who need more assistance from the government.

"Generally, the former governments started worrying about the needy sections of society near the elections, but our government has taken necessary and effective steps for the welfare of the people from the very first budget.

"This budget presented by me is exhaustive and more inclusive than the budgets presented earlier in this House," the Chief Minister said.

In this budget, he said, special care has been taken of all employees and para workers. "This budget focuses on women empowerment and welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Along with the welfare of the people, this budget is also development-oriented. In this budget, emphasis has been laid on the construction of large infrastructure projects through capital expenditure."

"I dedicate this budget for the prosperous future of every Himachali," he added.


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