Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh appreciated the General Budget presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in Parliament today. He said that this budget was pro people, progressive and growth oriented which will provide relief to every section of society especially agriculturist, women and youth.

Virbhadra Singh said that the Finance Minister has provided a tax credit of Rs. 2000 up to the income of Rs. 5 lacs and now income up to Rs. 2, 20, 000 would be tax free. He also welcomed the finance minister for not enhancing service tax and excise duty which will help the common man.

The Chief Minister said that a sum of Rs. 80, 194 crore has been earmarked for the development of rural areas which would certainly help states like Himachal Pradesh in overall development. He said that it would facilitate in infrastructural development and in providing basic amenities to the rural people. He said that this will also bridge the gap between the urban and the rural areas thereby helping in checking exodus to cities. He also said that Rs. 500 crore was also allocated for crop diversification programme which would help in promoting production of off season vegetables in the state. He said that Rs. 33, 000 crore had also been allocated under MGNREGA which would benefit rural unemployed people in getting jobs near to their home.

Virbhadra Singh complimented the Finance Minister for giving priority to women empowerment in the current budget. He said that in order to check crime against women and ensure their security, ‘Mahila Suraksha Nirbhaya Fund’ with initial investment of Rs. 1000 crore would be instituted. An announcement for establishing India’s first women bank in public sector will help in catering to the financial requirements of women. He said that a new scheme worth Rs. 200 crore had also been initiated for women to address issues of vulnerable women. He said that Rs. 13,215 crore had been allocated under Mid Day Meal Scheme and allocation of Rs. 10, 000 crore was also provided for Food Security.

He said that Finance Minister had also provided benefit to those home loan borrowers who would be taking home loan up to Rs. 25 lacs. They would be allowed an additional tax deduction of interest of up to Rs one lakh.

Chief Minister said that 10, 000 new buses would be purchased under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) out of which more buses will be provided to hilly states. This will help Himachal Pradesh in providing better transportation facilities to the people especially in Shimla, he added.

Virbhadra Singh said that budget would provide respite to every section of society as announcements like concessional six per cent interest on loans to weavers, Rs. 5284 crore for scholarships to SC/ST, OBC and minority students, Rs. 17, 700 crore for Integrated Child Development Scheme, Rs. 15, 260 crore for drinking water and sanitation and Rs. 6000 crore for rural housing fund would benefit the people at large.

Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker Brij Behari Lal Butail has also hailed the Union Budget presented by P. Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister in the Parliament today.

He said that increase in budgetary provision under Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Yojna in the budget would give fillip to developmental schemes in the State. Himachal Pradesh would also be benefited in agriculture sector with provision of Rs. seven lakh crore for agricultural loans to the farmers.

Butail said that State would also benefit from diversification of crops programme as it would provide financial and technical assistance for producing cash crops in tribal and backward areas. He said that State would be benefited immensely with establishment of National Biotic Stress Management Institute and Indian Institute of Agricultural Bio Technology. He also hailed the provision of Rs. 307 crore made in budget under National Livestock Mission, as it would help in strengthening the agrarian economy of the State through animal husbandry.

The Speaker said that the core banking facility through post offices would provide banking facilities to the remote and tribal areas of the State. He also appreciated the Rs. 1000 crore ‘Nirbhaya Nidhi’ Scheme for empowerment of women folk.

Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri also hailed the 2013-14 Union Budget. He said that that the Union Finance Minister has tried hard to contain the deficit while simultaneously addressing the growth imperatives.

Agnihotri said that the steps have been taken in the Budget to address infrastructure bottlenecks, stalled investments and fuel supply issues. He said that the budget has also addressed most of the sectors under stress such as infrastructure, capital goods and housing. He said that the an amount of Rs. 80,194 crore have been earmarked for development of rural areas, which would immensely benefit state like Himachal Pradesh where over 90 per cent population resides in rural areas.

Industries Minister has also hailed the decision of not imposing Service Tax on vocational courses being run by the institutions affiliated to the State Government. He said that this would provide affordable quality education to the youth and thus ensure trained manpower to the industry. He said that the Union Finance Minister has also exempted agricultural testing procedure form Service Tax, which would help the farming community in getting various agricultural testing facilities at reasonable rates. He also hailed the decision of allocating Rs. 96 crore for Handloom sector which would help in strengthening handloom sector in the State.