MUMBAI: Beating Shiv Sena’s bravado and the deadlock strategy of the Opposition Congress-NCP combine, BJP government in Maharashtra presented its third budget on Saturday amidst pandemonium in both the Houses of legislature. Contrary to expectations there was no announcement of loan waiver, but there were several pro-farmer provisions. Shiv Sena supported the government on the Budget despite its call for loan waiver, while Opposition leaders burnt copies of budget outside the Assembly after it was presented in the House.
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar did not make any big-ticket announcements as he presented the Budget for the year 2017-18. He also did not announce any new taxes, except an increase in taxes on liquor and lottery.
Describing it as the agriculture centric budget, Mungantiwar announced several provisions for the agriculture sector. Provisions of 8233 crore for irrigation projects, Rs 979 crore to compensate backlog of agriculture pumps and implementation of agriculture infrastructure projects, Rs 400 crore for the world bank assisted project of weather resilient agriculture and Rs 200 crore for pilot project on group farming to improve agricultural production were some of the provisions that he mentioned.
In a bid to push industries across the state, the government has proposed to set aside Rs 1,000 crore as incentives in terms of electricity rates, at Marathwada and Vidarbha. With an aim to promote cashless transactions, the state government has also brought down to zero, from the earlier 13%, the tax on card swiping machines to zero.
The state has allocated a sizable chunk for various infrastructure projects, including the development of airports and construction of metro corridors. Mungantiwar allocated Rs 7,000 crore to the public works department for better roads across state. The government also allocated Rs 700 crore for the construction of Metro lines in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. In a bid to develop infrastructure in the state, the finance minister announced setting up of a special purpose vehicle to raise Rs 1 lakh crore.
Out of every Rs 100 earned as revenue, Rs 78.3 comes from taxes on income and expenditure, property and capital transactions, commodities and services. Rs 8.3 comes from non-tax revenue such as interest receipts, dividends and profits, and the remaining Rs 13.43 comes from grants-in-aid and contributions as part of state and central plan schemes, and non-plan grants.
On the expenditure side, a lion’s share goes to social services with the government intending to spend Rs 46 out of every Rs 100 on it. Keeping up with its welfare measures, the next big chunk, of Rs 33 is spent on general services, while another Rs 17.44 is earmarked towards economic services of which around Rs 12.5 is the interest component. Some loose change of Rs 3.43 out of every Rs 100 is also chucked at Grants-in-aid and other schemes.
Despite demands from the Shiv Sena and the Opposition, Mungantiwar did not make any announcement on the loan waiver for farmers. However, the Shiv Sena members, who kept the government on its’ toes till noon, sat quietly through the presentation of the budget and listened to it quietly. Members of the Congress and the NCP however, chanted slogans, thumped desks, waved banners and even tried to block live telecast of budget speech in their bid to disrupt the budget presentation.
Earlier in the day Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made a statement in both the houses in an attempt to pacify the members who had been demanding loan waiver. While conveying the information on his meeting with union finance minister and agriculture minister at Delhi yesterday, he assured the members that the government would make substantial provisions to widen the institutional agriculture loan net in the state.
“Out of 1.31 crore account holders in the state, only 31 lakh are defaulters, who face exclusion from the institutional credit net. The government shall devise a scheme to help those, while not making injustice to those 1 crore who have been paying loans,” he said, after which Shiv Sena was toned down.
“If the Opposition were truly concerned with the plight of farmers, they would have listened to the Budget. But, they were utterly non serious while the budget was being presented, which was shameful,” he said while interacting with media after the budget.