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A please all Budget which may please few
Posted: Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012 at 10:59 PM
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BHOPAL: Rising for the ninth time in a row, Madhya Pradesh finance minister Raghav ji presented on Tuesday a please-all state budget which ended up pleasing none particularly. The net estimated deficit for 2012-13 was put at Rs 107.19 crore on a fiscal deficit of Rs 10,017 crore. 

For a state that has been shouting from the roof tops that industrialisation is among its priorities, what was allocated was a precise Rs 97 crore against infrastructure (mining included), Rs 10 crore to develop nine new industrial corridors; another Rs 10 crore to upgrade the five existing ones; and Rs 50 crore to create an infrastructure along the new Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor.

Raghav ji noted with considerable pride that a budget with a hitherto never seen size of Rs 80,000 crore, a revenue surplus of Rs 6,370 crore, a 22.47 per cent spurt in tax collection, and a 24.10 per cent rise in Plan expenditure compared to the previous year was sufficient evidence that MP was not only firmly out from the list of ‘bimaru’ (sick) states, but rearing to join its fastest developing cousins. 

Common sense, however, would have us believe that much of this could be attributed to larger Central outlays and allocations. For instance, the budget estimates in the tribal sub-plan zoomed from Rs 4,878 crore to Rs 6,109 crore in 2012-13, a rise of 25.13 per cent. Also the estimates for the scheduled caste sub plan lay soared 26.45 per cent to reach the Rs 4,241 crore mark. And last but not the least Rs 1,563 for forests and environment. None of this would have been possible without Delhi’s contribution.

A singular aspect of this year’s fiscal exercise, said Raghav ji, was the decision to have a separate budget for agriculture -- nearly 40 per cent of the total state Plan. But the jury is still out on how much has been gained from a similar initiative last year to have a stand-alone gender budget. The FM later clarified at the press conference that agriculture encompassed the entire gamut of allied disciplines like irrigation, animal husbandry, horticulture, rural development etc. Hardly surprising then that together they make up for 40 per cent of the total Plan size.

The power sector received a 49 per cent boost with an infusion of Rs 7,710 crore followed by roads at Rs 3,469 crore with another Rs 1,225 crore for maintenance.

Minor mercies for the ‘aam aadmi’ included a relief of 13-5 per cent in VAT on humble items like khakra, khas-khas, adult diapers, CFL/LED, tubes, photography paper, -- and petrol. The last would see a reduction in prices by slightly less than a rupee.

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