Bhopal: Finance Minister plays miserly Santa; ups income of farmers & casual govt staff

Minor sops for service class in Rs 2.04 lakh-crore budget

BHOPAL: The Shivraj government’s election-year budget has brought good cheers for the farmers and the service class though it is not loaded with sops as expected.

With the GST regime depriving the state governments of the right to alter tax rates, the budget has lost much of its charm and will have no effect on prices of commodities and services.

The professional tax would now burn a smaller hole in the pockets of the government and the private sector employees, Krishak Samriddhi Yojana will fetch an incentive of Rs 200 per quintal for wheat and paddy growers and compliance with the GST regulations will be easier for businesses with a turnover of less that Rs 1 crore.

Presenting the budget in the Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday, finance minister Jayant Mallaiya sought the legislature’s nod to spend Rs 1.86 lakh crore from the consolidated fund of the state.

The Rs 2.04 lakh-crore budget envisages a total revenue expenditure of Rs 1,55,623 crore against total revenue receipts of Rs 1,55,886 crore, thus leaving the government with a revenue surplus of Rs 263 crore.

A major part of the finance minister’s speech was devoted to comparing the key economic indicators for 2003 with those of 2018 to prove how the BJP regime had propelled the state on the fast track to growth, development and prosperity. “This is our last budget and we want to show how we had performed in the 15 years of our rule”, Mallaiya told the said in post-budget press conference.

Handing out a gift hamper for non-permanent government employees, the FM announced that the remuneration of Aaganwadi workers, Aaganwadi assistants, Kotwars, college and school guest teachers and part-time sanitary workers, peons and clerks would be raised.

He also announced that the services of the Adyapaks – who are presently governed by the urban civic bodies – would be placed under the state government, the cadre would be abolished and the Adhyapaks would be appointed as teachers.

The minister said that the employees of autonomous institutions and government undertakings including boards and corporations and urban civic bodies would be awarded 7th pay commission scales.

However, the minister neither quantified the proposed hikes in the remunerations of the casual and contractual employees nor stipulated any timeline for the implementation of the announcement related to Adhyapaks.

Mallaiya announced that now those earning up to Rs 2.25 lakh per annum (against the present Rs 1.80 lakh) would not be required to pay professional tax. Till now, the tax was charged at a uniform rate of Rs 2,500 per annum. Those earning more than Rs 2.25 lakh but less than Rs 3 lakh will have to pay Rs 1,500; those between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh Rs 2,000 and those above Rs 4 lakh, will have to pay Rs 2,500 per annum. Similarly, now businesses with a turnover of less than Rs 20 lakh – against Rs 10 lakh earlier – will be exempted from professional tax.

The beneficiaries

w Farmers  (Incentive of Rs 200 per quintal for 70L paddy and wheat growers)

w Service class (Professional tax slashed)

w Government employees (higher remuneration for guest teachers, kotwars, aaganwadi workers, Adhyapaks to become regular teachers)

w Small businesses (Lesser hassles in filing GST returns)

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