It is a year of general elections of Lok Sabha. These elections will lead to formation of new Union government at the Centre. The state BJP government headed by Jai ram Thakur has the responsibility to contribute its best through its popular working to return back all the four seats in Lok Sabha to retain the 2014 tally from this hill state. The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Saturday presented in Assembly the budget estimates for 2019- 20 of Rs 44, 387.73 crore with fiscal deficit of Rs 7,352 crore which is 4.3% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). Thakur has proposed no new tax in the state. Thakur proposed the revenue receipts of 2019-20 are estimated at Rs 33,747 crore, Revenue expenditure is likely to be Rs 36,089 crore and the revenue deficit will be Rs 2,342 crore. Thakur has shown the estimated fiscal deficit at Rs 7,352 crore in 2019-20 which is 4.3% of GSDP. It is deficit is expected to be covered partially by net borrowings of Rs 5,069 crore during 2019-20, which will be within the approved limit under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act. The planned budget for the next year has been kept at Rs 7,100 crore. It was the second budget in succession of the present Chief Minister as the Finance Minister. The focus of the budget continued on the last budget’s lines for strengthening of the agriculture and social welfare sectors. The budget speech has been drastically cut short of the financial details such as the capital account. It emphasized on socio-economic benefits accruing to various sections of the society. Thakur tried to depict his government’s stance as a popular government which cares for the people in general and weaker sections in particular. The sops given in the budget depict this populist policy, which he denies, rather than accepting. Thakur also announced 4 percent ADA from July last for government employees, besides enhancing monthly emoluments of PAT and other teachers not on regular role on a par with other employees, enhanced honoraria of the representatives and office bearers of the panchayati raj institutions and local bodies and daily wages of employees from Rs 225 to 250 and honoraria of other part-timers serving the government including chawkidars. He also promised to fill up 20,000 posts in the government sector.
In his three-hour long budget speech, Thakur announced 15 new schemes and continuation of past 30 schemes those were announced in the current year’s budget. The New initiatives announced include to improve Quality of Education with running of CV Raman Virtual Classrooms, launch of ‘Khel Kood Pratibha Khoj Karyakram’ , ‘Khel Se Swasthya’ Yojna, “Atal Nirmal Jal Yojna” to provide water purifiers in schools, scheme ‘Ek Buta Beti Ke Naam’ to encourage tree plantation and for increasing gender sensitivity, ‘Kalakar Protsahan Yojna’ to encourage children taking courses in performing arts and encourage their admission in National Institutions, Mukhya Mantri Green Technology Transfer Scheme, Integrated Mushroom Development Project with external assistance, Himachal Pradesh Sub Tropical Horticulture, Irrigation and Value Addition (SHIVA) project, scheme for ‘Doubling of Farmers’ income through Water Conservation and other Activities”, SAHARA scheme to provide financial assistance of Rs 2,000 per month to be given to patients suffering from grievous and life-long debilitating conditions, MNREGA workers, who work for more than 50 days and widows getting social security pension will now get HIMCARE Scheme health benefits without premium and persons working on outsourcing basis will also get benefits of this scheme after paying a nominal premium. Besides these, the Chief Minister has also announced formation of new policies on electric vehicles and tourism with master plan. In nutshell, the populist budget estimates remain static for spending on development despite increase of 15 new schemes, inflation and seven percent increase of budget from last year’s estimates. It is depicted from the spending summary given in the budget speech by Chief Minister as, “Out of every Rs 100 to be spent by the Government, Rs 27.84 will be spent on salaries, Rs 15 on pension, Rs 10.25 on interest payment, Rs 7.35 on loan repayment and Rs 39.56 will be spent on development works and other activities.” The Chief Minister gave these details in the budget estimates on Saturday summarising the spendings for financial year of 2019-20.
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