Chhattisgarh`s budget gives priority to agriculture
Raipur: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Saturday presented a Rs 44,169 crore budget for the fiscal year 2013-14 in the Assembly, with its focus on agriculture and allied sectors.
Assembly elections are due in the state later this year.
Singh, who also holds finance portfolio, stressed the theme of inclusive growth in his budget speech, and underlined government`s commitment to the development of farmers, women and children, youth and marginalized sections, particularly the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes and the unorganised labour.
The outlay for the agriculture and allied sectors is Rs 8,542 crore, or 19 per cent of the budget. It includes Rs 1,656 crore for agriculture, Rs 340 crore for animal husbandry, Rs 2,010 crore for irrigation, Rs 386 crore for subsidy for agricultural pumps and Rs 3,102 crore for paddy procurement.
The CM also announced bonus of Rs 270 per quintal for paddy procured during Kharif 2012. With more than 70 lakh MT of paddy procured during the season, approximately Rs 1,900 crore would be disbursed to farmers, he said.
The budget, which focused on agriculture (on which 76 per cent population of the state is dependent) in the election year gave respite to the farmers in purchasing paddy transplanter by making the product tax free. Entry tax on soyabean was also waived.
Implementation of Food Security Act was another key feature. It aims at guaranteeing food entitlement to 42 lakh poor families, who will be provided rice at Rs 1 and Rs 2 per Kg (for different categories) and pulses (grams) at Rs 5 per Kg, Singh announced. This would cost the state exchequer a whopping Rs 2,000 crore annually.
Singh also announced that 77 new hostels and 20 new residential schools (ashrams) would be set up, and all the girls hostels would get new buildings.
Remuneration of Anganwadi workers and helpers would be increased from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 and Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000, respectively.
Low-cost mobile phones (costing up to Rs 3,000), induction cookers, LED bulbs and lights, flavoured milk and computer spare parts will cost less, with slashing of VAT. The VAT on these items has been reduced from 14 per cent to 5 per cent.
The VAT on medical oxygen has been reduced from 14 per cent to 5 per cent while composition fee on road contracts had been reduced from 2 to 1 per cent.
Giving respite to industries, state government has curtailed VAT on TMT steel bars from 5 to 3 per cent while that on light diesel oil is reduced from 25 to 14 per cent.
Entry tax on iron ore and pig iron and steel scrap purchase from outside the state and iron ore pellets has been reduced from 1 to 0.5 per cent while that on furnace oil purchased from outside the state has been reduced to 5 per cent from 10 per cent.
The gross fiscal deficit is estimated at Rs 5,145 crore, 3 per cent of the GSDP, which is below the limit set by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act.
Singh said after presenting the budget that the state plan outlay of Rs 22,491 crore was higher by 8 per cent than current year`s allocation. About 86 per cent of state`s plan is funded from state`s own resources, he said.
The government estimates a growth of 16 per cent in tax revenue and 25 per cent in non-tax revenue.
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