After much controversy and infighting within the cabinet and party, the cash strapped Congress government in Himachal Pradesh finally announced promised Unemployment Allowance to the unemployed youth in the state budget for 2017-18, presented in the HP assembly by Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh on Friday.

The unemployed youth having 10+2 qualification will be given Rs.1,000 per month, while the disabled, unemployed youth will be given Unemployment Allowance of Rs.1,500 per month, said CM, who presented his 20th annual budget as Finance minister of the state in his six tenures as CM.  

He said that the detailed guidelines on eligibility would be issued by the state government shortly.

The government has kept an outlay of Rs 150 Crore for the Unemployment Allowance, which is likely to benefit around 1.5 lakh such unemployed youths in HP, who are registered in the employment exchanges in HP.

Earlier, the government was reluctant to give Unemployment Allowance and the CM had focussed more on the skill development allowance instead. But, with the opposition BJP is making it an issue and the Congress party too putting pressure on him recently, he considered it in the budget, eyeing elections, which are due by the year end.  

The budget proposals for 2017-18 in HP are estimated at Rs.35,783 Crore, with a fiscal deficit of Rs.4,946 Crore.
However, keeping with his populist approach and it being a election year, the CM has not levied any additional taxes even this time and has given a ‘please all’ budget, taking care of different categories, especially the marginalised section, farmers and employees.

Out of every 100 Rupees, the state will have Rs 77.45 as total receipts, including transfers from the central government, including loans. The government will meet the gap of Rs 22.55 by borrowings. Out of Rs 100, Rs 39.55 would be spent on development works.

 “The budget is a reflection of my sentiments towards people. I would have given more, if there were more funds,” said the CM.

Former BJP Chief Minister and leader of opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal, however, dubbed the budget as “much ado about nothing.”

In his longest ever budget speech that extended to over four hours, the CM announced to enhance the Social Security Pension of 650 per month to Rs 700 per month.

He said the pension would be provided to all mentally retarded children/adults without any income limit, while the pension for the beneficiaries above 80 years of age is proposed to go up from Rs.1,200 to Rs.1,250 per month.
As per budget proposals, the reservation quota for the disabled will be increased from 3 to 4 per cent. The additional state honoraria of Anganwari workers will be enhanced from Rs.450 to Rs.1,000 per month and that of Anganwari helpers from Rs.300 to Rs 600 per month.

The budget proposals include due benefits to employees, who comprise a formidable number of over 2.5 lakh, and rolls out schemes for boosting organic farming, polyhouse cultivation of vegetables and the fruit production in the state.
The Himachal assembly will pass the budget proposals on March 30.