Free Press Journal

No New Taxes, No Loan Waiver

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Mumbai : High on agriculture and the farm sector, focus on infrastructure, but not a word on loan waiver. That should sum up the budget presented on Saturday in both the Houses by the BJP-led coalition government.

People have been spared of new taxes, only liquor will be marginally costlier.

Though the Opposition tried to disrupt proceedings in the House by shouting slogans and waving placards, interestingly, the BJP’s alliance partner, the Shiv Sena, which had threatened to disrupt the budget did no such thing. The Sena has been supporting the Opposition parties over the demand for loan waiver for debt-ridden farmers of the state. The CM had even taken Sena ministers to meet Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely to argue the state’s case.


In the budget, though, the state announced no immediate relief for the farmers. Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who presented his third straight budget on Saturday, said it was “agriculture-centric”. He added that the BJP-led government has taken a major decision to merge plan and non-plan expenditure from 2017-18. After the merger, the concept of plan outlay will cease to exist, said the finance minister adding, “A sum of Rs 77,184 crore has been earmarked for various schemes.”

The finance said in FY18, the revenue receipt is estimated at Rs 2,43,737 crore and revenue expenditure at Rs 2,48,242 crore.

Consequently, there will be a revenue deficit of Rs 4,511 crore. Mungantiwar said the government will try to reduce the deficit by cutting down avoidable expenditure and ensuring effective revenue recoveries.

The government has earmarked Rs 100 crore for micro-irrigation projects in Yavatmal and Wardha districts which will be completed

using Israeli technology. Mungantiwar said the state government proposes to double farm income by 2021. To achieve this, it has decided

to focus on irrigation, electricity, farm ponds, food processing, technology, marketing, group farming and agriculture credit.

On the lines of Smart City, the budget lays emphasis on Smart Villages wherein the infrastructure for the villages will be developed. There is a budgetary allocation for infrastructure development in Nagar Panchayat and Nagar Parishad areas and provisions have been made for irrigation projects. Fadnavis’s favourite project, Jal Shivar Scheme, has also been given a huge push.

Earlier in the day, Devendra Fadnavis said he had positive discussions with the Centre over formulating a scheme to bring back farmers defaulting on loans into the institutional credit system.

Making a statement in the Legislative Assembly, the CM said he had assured Arun Jaitley and Union Agri-culture Minister Radhamohan Singh that the state was willing to contribute its share in this scheme to help farmers. Fadnavis said out of the 1.36 crore farmers, 31 lakh had loan dues worth Rs 30,500 crore. “If farmers who pay their loan on time get a message that if loan dues are not repaid, the loan will be waived off, then the banking system will collapse,” the CM said.

HIGHLIGHTS

Revenue receipt is estimated at Rs 2,43,737 crore and revenue expenditure at Rs 2,48,242 crore. Consequently, there will be a revenue deficit of Rs 4,511 crore.

Envisaging an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in the next five years in the infrastructure sector, the govt will set up a special purpose vehicle to raise the fund.

A whopping Rs 8,233 crore allocated for irrigation projects. Rs 50 crore set aside for farmers to develop markets and sell produce.

Octroi in Mumbai will go with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax.

Rs 200 crore allocated for memorials of Shivaji, BR Ambedkar and Bal Thackeray.

Rs 1,014 crore to improve crime detection and conviction rate across state. CCTV networks to be set up in Navi Mumbai, Mira Bhayandar, Chandrapur and Amravati. Thane to get a forensic lab.

Rs 200 crore to develop e-governance. 28,332 gram panchayats to be connected with optic fibre cable by December 2018.