The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday presented the state budget proposals for the next fiscal in the Assembly with focus on agriculture, horticulture and rural economy as a whole, committing to double up the income of farmers by 2022.
Thakur, who holds the finance portfolio, presented the budget estimates of Rs 41,440 crore for 2018-19 with the fiscal deficit of Rs 7,821 crore, proposing 28 new schemes in different sectors.
Although the government will meet out the gap of Rs 26.64 in every Rs 100 with borrowings, it has tried to reach out to almost every section, right from newborn to school students, women, youth and senior citizens, proposing small initiatives and intervention, some with emotional tinge.
The government has proposed to increase social security pension to Rs 750 per month.
For those, having disability of 70 per cent and above and persons aged 70 years and above, the pension is proposed to be hiked to Rs 1,300 per month.
The budget proposals include hike in minimum daily wages in HP from Rs 210 to Rs 225, increase in incentive for ASHA workers from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,250 and provision of an additional honorarium of Rs 1,750 to Anganwadi workers, which the state government will provide.
The state government proposes to increase employment days under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) from 100 to 120 annually. The state government will meet out any additional burden.
In the health sector, the government announced to provide sanitary napkins to the girls in government schools up to 10 plus two at a cost of Rs one per packet instead of Rs 5 through ASHA workers.
A new Mukhya Mantri Ashirwad Scheme is proposed to provide baby kit worth Rs 1,500 to every new born in a hospital, benefiting around one lakh new borns every year.
Besides, the government has tried to mobilise operational funds to the tune of Rs eight crore for 108 emergency ambulance service per annum by proposing to levy Re one per bottle of liquor sold.
The government listed the protection of stray cattle as a priority. It proposed to set up a Gau Sewa Ayog and levy of Gau Vansh Vikas Cess on every bottle of liquor sold in the state (to collect Rs Eight Crore per annum) and amendment in Act to earmark at least 15 per cent of offerings in temples for the construction maintenance and running Gau Sadans.
“Our budget is committed to farmers and orchardists. We are working for overall development of Himachal Pradesh by concentrating on tourism, women empowerment and employment,” the CM Thakur told mediapersons after presenting the budget proposals in the state Assembly.
He said it was first time in the country that the state government has started so many new schemes in one go, with proper budget provisions.
“We have introduced the schemes despite the financial crunch. We know that it is a difficult task to accomplish, but we will try our best. Resources mobilisation is a challenge, but we will handle it with lot of scope in hydro sector and forestry. We are also eyeing full support of the Central government for development of the state,” he said.