As announced prior to state polls, Kamal Nath government refrained from imposing any fresh tax on the public as Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot presented a Budget of over Rs 2.33 lakh crore in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Aiming to please various sections of society, the Budget proposed to allocate Rs 132 crore for the welfare of bovines, while hiked grant to the state Waqf Board and Haj committee.
It also made provisions for developing the Ram Van Gaman Path, tracing the mythological route undertaken by Lord Ram during his years of exile in the forests of Madhya Pradesh, a prominent pre-poll promise of Nath.
Presenting the first full-time budget of the Congress, back in power after a gap of 15 years, Bhanot did not announce any tax or cess, except on petrol and fuel. “We would raise revenue from revised tax structure in mining, excise and transport sector,” said the minister.
Alleging less allocation of funds to the state in the Union Budget, the government had recently put an additional Rs 2 each cess on petrol and diesel. The Opposition raised objections to the state government’s move to impose further cess on fuel.
Bhanot presented a budget of Rs 2,33,605 crore with an expected fiscal deficit of 3.34% and revenue surplus of Rs 732 crore. The minister said the BJP had left an empty coffer for the new government and receipt of tax share from the Centre was also reducing gradually and in the latest vote of account, the Centre had reduced MP’s share by over 2,677 crore. “We have urged the Finance Commission to increase our tax share from 42 to 50%,” he said.
“In a short span of time, our government has ensured that 17 big industries start production in the state,” Bhanot said. Amid ruckus from the opposition, the minister announced that farm loans of 20 lakh farmers were waived off and in the second phase, Rs 8,000 crore has been provisioned for the same. Another Rs 1,000 crore has been allocated for capitalisation of co-operative banks.
The budget also raised the allocation for farmer welfare and agri-development sector by 6%. An amount of Rs 1,000 ha been allotted for Right to Water and 40 rivers in 36 districts would be revived, the minister said.
The state government would work for ensuring Right to Health for all, Bhanot said. An expressway would be developed between Indore and Bhopal along with satellite towns, industrial areas and a dry port.
Various allocations were made for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities. “Besides, the grants for the Madhya Pradesh Waqf Board and the Haj committee have been hiked. More than Rs 821 crore has been earmarked for the OBC and Minorities Department,” Bhanot said.
Branding of desi items
The state government also announced a scheme for branding of indigenous products like Mawa Jalebi of Jabalpur, Morena’ Gajak, Mawa Bati of Malwa, Chanderi sari, Ratlam Namkin, Bagh print of Dhar and bronze items of Chhatarpur.
Bid to fight malnutrition
The budget made a provision of Rs 2,472 crore to fight malnutrition and a pilot project in this direction would soon be initiated in nine worst-affected districts.
Stress on cow conservation
Reaffirming the government’s commitment for conservation of cows, the budget allocated Rs 132 crore for 1,000 bovine shelters. The daily allowance for maintenance of cows at gaushalas has been revised from Rs 4 to Rs 20.
The government has proposed three models of maintenance of cow shelters — the convergence model, one that would be supported by state funds, a corporate model with commercial aims and a third one would involve temples and lands associated with them. The budget also proposed a three-fold hike in the honorarium of priests working in registered temples.