Himachal budget

Shimla: The Chief Minister presented the tax free state budget 2016-17 at the assembly today. The Chief Minister, who was presenting his 19th Budget, has tried to cover all section of the society. Horticulture, Education, PWD and IPH, departments get major pie in the budget.

However, the budget failed to get positive reaction from the political opponents. The Himachal CPM has termed the budget highly subjective with a complete mismatch between what exists on ground and the promises made in the budget speech.

CPM leader Tikender Panwar, in his statement, claimed that budget and economic survey clearly points out at the strong mismatch between the ability of the government to perform and the resources it has in hand. Panwar questioned how government will get the revenue to fund some of its ambitious schemes is for all to see in the absence of revenue present in hand. Panwar said

“If a cursory look is given at the contribution of various sectors in the state’s gross domestic product it points out at the decelerating primary sector especially the agriculture sector which shows a negative growth of 1.7%. And if agriculture alone is seen there is a negative growth of 10% which is indeed alarming. The budget has not been able to address this issue”.

Panwar suggested the budget should have addressed the issue of decelerating agriculture and especially decreasing irrigation in the state.

CPM leader further stated the Govt allocated 17 percent of the budget for accelerating the growth in the state, which he feels insufficient. Panwar stated the total debt happens to be 35521 crore rupees and annual interest is over 3400 crore rupees which is 65% of the total plan outlay. He questioned

“The moot point is how is the government trying to ensure that its foremost priority sector i.e. social services is going to get the money which is required when there is hardly any money for it”

For education there is a total budget of nearly 20% which is far less than the required 30% and this too includes both plan and non-plan part. Hence any scope of expansion which is actually become the hallmark of the present government will not be commensurate to the availability of the money for such an expansion.

However, the Congress praised the Budget and termed it growth oriented and aimed at all round development of all sections of the society.

Congress leader Naresh Chauhan said the Himachal has emerged a role model on development front as the state has surpassed national growth rate which stood 6.8 percent while the state’s growth rate is 7.2 percent.

He said that the 19th budget of CM Virbhadra Singh focuses on developing rural infrastructure and economy which would provide a major boost to the rural economy. Chauhan said

“The state budget has made adequate allocations for rural, agriculture and horticulture which a view to increase income of farming community in the state and this would generate employment opportunities in these areas,”

He said that Rs 1549 Crore has been sanctioned for development in rural areas and at Panchayat level. Further, Rs 35 crore has been sanctioned for providing safe drinking water to all and all panchayats in the state would provide water testing kits to check the quality of water.

Chauhan said that the state government is focussing on developing roads infrastructure in the state and in 2016-17, 4000 kms roads would be metalled. Besides this, education sector has been accorded priority by the state government and Rs 6013 crore has been sanctioned and new schemes like Mukhyamantri Gyandeep Scheme and Mukhyamantri Adarsh School Scheme would be launched.