On Monday the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government presented its last budget before the 2021 Assembly elections.
The State budget is of 2,55,677 crores for the year 2020-21. The budget was presented by West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra who also commented that the "country’s economy was on ventilation".
"Bengal's GDP is 10.4, which is nearly twice that of national average," Mitra said. He said that "we have slid down" in the democracy index.
Despite this, Mitra added, the economic development of Bengal is undeterred. He said that in the present financial year, the state had generated "9 lakh 11 thousand employment opportunities".
Speaking at the post-Budget press meet, the Chief Minister added, "Centre nowadays does not consult states before taking any decision."
Here are the highlights from the state budget:
1. Three more Universities to open in Bengal. Rs. 50 crore to be used for its formation.
2. Tribals above 60 who don't get pension from any agency will be given Rs.1,000 pension. This inititive will benefit four lakh adivasis. Rs. 2,500 crore has been allocated for the 'Bandhu Prakalpa' scheme.
3. The government announced setting up of 100 new MSME parks across the state in the next three years to generate employment. The state allocated Rs 200 crore for this.
4. Free electricity for consumers with quarterly consumption up to 75 units. The scheme, named 'Hasir Alo' will benefit 35 lakh poor families. The government proposed allocation of Rs. 200 crore for this.
5. The government also announced a scheme to build houses for all permanent tea garden workers. Rs. 500 crore was allotted for the housing scheme for tea garden workers, named 'Chai Sundari'. Mitra said the scheme will benefit around three lakh workers in 370 tea gardens in the state.
6. The state government also proposed agricultural income tax waiver for tea gardens for the next two fiscals.
7. Three civil service academies to be set up. These will be named Mahatma Gandhi, Jai Hind and Azad.
8. The state Finance Minister said that in 2019-20, Central devolution was 11,213 crores , Grants were 37,973 crore, and GST compensation was 1,300 crore.
"50,486 crore is being denied to state of West Bengal," the government said, adding that Rs. 38,000 crore was earlier denied. This, the govt said, brought the total to Rs. 89,000 crore.
Also on Monday, former finance minister P Chidambaram tore into the Modi government's handling of the economy, saying it was close to collapse and was been attended by "very incompetent doctors."
Initiating the debate on the Union Budget for 2020-21, he said rising unemployment and falling consumption was making India poorer. The economy, he said, is facing demand constraints and is investment starved. The economy is facing fall in consumption and rising unemployment.
"Fear and uncertainty prevails in the country," he added.
(With inputs from agencies)