Maharashtra Government Presents Rs 20,292 Crore Revenue Deficit Budget
Maharashtra government on Tuesday presented an additional budget for 2019-20 with a revenue deficit of Rs 20,292.94 crore, higher than last year’s gap of Rs 14,960.04 crore.
The government has estimated revenue expenditure of Rs 3.34 lakh crore against revenue receipts of Rs 3.14 lakh crore, said Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who tabled the budget proposals in the Legislative Assembly.
The budget, which comes three months before state elections, aims to develop agriculture, irrigation and infrastructure and on welfare of women, backward and other backward classes and tribals.
It proposed Rs 12,000 crore for irrigation sector, Rs 350 crore for micro-irrigation, Rs 1,000 crore for development of Dhangar community, Rs 200 crore for OBC Corporations, Rs 600 crore for research by four agricultural universities and Rs 100 crore for construction of houses for Divyang (handicapped).
Insurance cover will be made available to 5.5 crore people under the Gopinath Munde Shetkari Apghat Vima Yojana. The scheme will be expanded with an outlay of Rs 210 crore. Benefits of amnesty scheme would be available in respect of outstanding tax in the ratio of undisputed tax and disputed tax proportionately, the minister said.
The interim budget presented in February was of Rs 4.03 lakh crore and due to new items of expenditure, there was an increase of Rs 1,586 crore, Mungantiwar said. Under the Maharashtra Settlement of Arrears of Tax, Interest, Penalty or Late Fee Ordinance, benefit of amnesty would be available in respect of outstanding tax in the ratio of undisputed tax and disputed tax, proportionately, he said.
Regarding the Professional Tax Act, the minister said the provision for penalty for enrollment holder for late registration has been done away with. Instead, a levy of fixed interest of 1.25 percent is proposed, he added.
Under the Maharashtra Value Added Tax Act, now there is no need to file audit report for dealers having turnover of more than Rs 1 crore and tax liability of Rs 25,000 or less in a year, he said. The budget provides for Rs 12,597 crore for water resources department and Rs 600 crore for setting up four agriculture universities.
It proposes to build a memorial for former prime minister late Atal Bihar Vajpayee in Mumbai while announcing a grant of Rs 150 crore for facilities at the Sir JJ School of Art, Architecture and Applied Arts in Mumbai. An additional Rs 10 crore fund has been provided for Darpankar Balshastri Jambhekar Senior Journalists Pension Scheme.
Mungatiwar also proposed Rs 200 crore for OBC corporations in the state. The aid under the social assistance scheme has been raised from Rs 600 to Rs 1,000 for the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and Shravan Bal Yojana. Widow with one child will get aid of Rs 1,100 per month and those with two kids will get Rs 1,200 per month, Mungatiwar said.
An outlay of Rs 1,000 crore was proposed for welfare and advancement of the Dhangar (shepherd) community through 22 schemes on the lines of tribal schemes, he said. In both the Assembly and the Legislative Council (where Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar tabled the budget), opposition members staged a walk-out, alleging that budget provisions were “leaked” on Mungantiwar’s Twitter handle before the presentation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis countered the allegation saying the provisions were put out on Twitter 15 minutes after the minister began his budget speech. By March-end this year, the total debt of the state was Rs 4.14 lakh crore, Mungantiwar said, adding that in view of the size of the state's economy, the debt burden is within permissible limits.
The state government expressed solidarity with farmers reeling under the impact of severe drought in large parts of the state and said a sum of Rs 4,461 crore has been credited in bank accounts of more than 66 lakh cultivators as part of relief measures.
Mungantiwar, while tabling the additional budget for 2019-20 in the assembly, said the sum of Rs 4,461 crore has been credited as a grant in bank accounts of 66,88,422 farmers in 17,985 villages spread over 26 drought-affected districts.
He outlined drought mitigation steps undertaken by the government.
The minister said a control room has been set up in each of the collectorate to tackle the issue of drinking water scarcity. Powers for approval of tankers have been delegated to sub-divisional officers to cut down on delays.
Piped-water supply schemes in the drought-affected areas, which were closed due to electricity arrears, have been restarted by paying 5 percent of the pending dues from the scarcity fund, the minister said.
He said as of June 10, 5,243 villages 11,293 huts and settlements are being supplied drinking water through 6,597 tankers.
As many as 9,925 wells and borewells have been acquired to augment drinking water supply and an approval has been given to 2,438 temporary water supply schemes, Mungantiwar said.
To overcome fodder scarcity, 29.4 lakh metric ton fodder has been produced on 30,000 hectares of galper lands (tracts created by deposition of sediment by rivers).
Due to this, the level of fodder scarcity has come down, the minister told the House, Mungantiwar said. Up to June 10, 1,635 fodder camps have been started, benefiting 11,04,979 animals, he said. For the first time, a decision has been taken to start fodder camps for goats and sheep in the drought-affected district, he said.
Assuring farmers of all help from the government, Mungantiwar said the state administration firmly stands by them.
The minister said a provision of Rs 6,410 crore has been made in the budget to deal with outcome of natural disasters and assured that additional funds would be earmarked if necessary.
A pilot project aimed at providing smoke-free environment in the kitchen for women will be launched by the government, Mungantiwar announced.
The project, named "Chullah (wood-fired stove)-free and smoke-free Maharashtra", will target the women who have not benefited under the Ujjwala or any other LPG distribution scheme, he said.
The pilot project will be implemented in Naxal- affected areas as well as the districts where farmer suicide rate is high, Mungantiwar said.