With an eye on the upcoming assembly elections, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday presented an additional please-all state budget with a revenue deficit of Rs 20,293 crore, which is considerably higher than last' year's shortfall of Rs 14,960 crore.
While the revenue expenditure stood at Rs 334,933 crore, the revenue receipts were estimated at Rs 314,640 crore, or a shortfall of Rs 20,293 crore.
Hoping to cheer all sectors, Mungantiwar has laid thrust on agriculture and irrigation, infrastructure development, special emphasis women, backward classes and tribals and on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Among the major highlights, he has proposed an outlay of Rs 12,000 crore for the irrigation sector, Rs 350 crore for micro-irrigation facilities, Rs 1,000 crore for the upliftment of the Dhangar community, Rs 200 crore for a new OBC corporation, Rs 600 crore for research in the four agricultural universities in the state and Rs 100 crore for housing for the handicapped.
Under the farmers' loan waiver schemes, the Minister said an amount of Rs 4,461 has been credited as a 'grant' in bank accounts of nearly 6.70 million farmers in around 18,000 villages in the 26 worst-hit districts of the state.
Mungantiwar said that under the Gopinath Munde Shetkari Apghat Vima Yojana, an insurance cover would be given to 5.50 crore people, and which has been expanded to cover the entire family with an outlay of Rs 210 crore.
A provision of Rs 6,410 crore has been made to deal with natural disasters with additional funds to be made available if required, he added.
Under the tax proposals, Mungantiwar announced the benefits of an amnesty scheme for outstanding tax in the ratio of undisputed and disputed taxes proportionately, certain reliefs under the Ease of Doing Business, provisions for modern weapons and technology to end the Maoist activities, and a special skill development programme to provide employment to the youth in these troubled areas with a provision of Rs 500 crore over the next three years, including Rs 150 crore for 2019-2020.
Mungantiwar also proposed constructing a memorial dedicated to the late Prime Minister Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Mumbai and a statue of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak at Maharashtra Bhavan in Delhi.
Attacking the budget, state Congress President Ashok Chavan said that the increasing deficit highlights the lack of financial discipline of the state government.
The Nationalist Congress Party's Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde termed the budget as "illusionary", giving an impression that much is being given without anything concrete being made available.
He also said that the budget did not even contain a mention of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial.
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