Infrastructure development oriented Budget

At the outset, the Governor and his team in the administration deserve applauds for presenting a full fledged Budget putting at rest expectations, if not speculations about the possibility of presenting of an interim Budget or a Vote on Account like exercise. On December 15, State Budget of Rs 88911 crore for the fiscal 2019-20 was approved by the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik. It goes without saying that despite various constraints faced by the State administration, nearly more than after two decades, any Governor could present a complete Budget incorporating therein the desired allocations on priority areas like agriculture , education , health and medical care and above all, on infrastructural development.
The salient features of the Budget are that no new taxes have been proposed to be levied nor any changes made to the existing rate structure. Since majority of the projects which should have by now been completed , budgetary provisions have been kept for them so that they were now completed . The fiscal deficit which was put at Rs 19529 crore in the Revised Estimates is expected to come down to Rs 13996 crore in 2019-20. Whether the gap of nearly Rs6000 crores was proposed to be filled with reduced expenditures or imposing of some taxes later, has not been specified clearly in the Budget. On the other hand , however, additional resources required were projected at Rs 9876 crores in the Revised Estimates for the current fiscal and Rs4340 crore for 2019-20.
Since avenues of earning revenues by the Government are limited on account of not widening the tax base and revising the existing ones to keep pace with its ever increasing expenditure , proposing no new taxes has been a popular measure as the source of income is the massive grants from the Centre which constitute nearly 44% and an additional 18% as the State’s share from the Central Taxes. On the other hand, as much as 27% of the revenues are spent on salaries and pensions, paid to Government employees and pensioneRs Agriculture gets an enhanced allocation of Rs 20 crore which appears to be too low but perhaps constraints of balancing the Budget without expanding revenue base demanded it. However 50% subsidy is proposed for vans which are refrigerated to transport perishable items like vegetables and fruits. In Education Rs 350 crore are proposed to be allocated for new colleges and Rs 100 crore there-from, to be spent on providing benches and desks in primary and middle schools.
A long demand of the people of Ladakh for setting up of a University in that part of the State has been conceded and Ladakh was going to have its first ever University with an initial grant of Rs 65 crore , of course by the next fiscal. The Budget is designed to give a major push to building infrastructure for which Rs 30469 crore stand earmarked for investment. An important aspect of infrastructural development is in the form of keeping budgetary provisions of Rs3631 crore for various projects languishing in the state. Besides, the Budget aims at laying the requisite thrust on Panchayats, Municipalities and sports. Governor appears to give sports a major boost in the State by allocating Rs 350 crore to it and allied activities. He has many times felt the dire need to promote sports to channelize the activities of the youth in the positive direction as there was enough potential available which needed to be chiselled and moulded properly with providing more facilities. Health and medical care gets Rs 350 crore mainly for completion of construction of buildings for Medical Colleges and District Hospitals while Rs 100 crore is proposed for purchasing new equipment in hospitals.
However, the Budget appears to be envisioned to bring about overall development especially ensuring languishing projects like drinking water, construction of bridges, roads and welfare measures to get completed as soon as possible . The State needs a lot of private investment to infuse new vigour on the economic front for which peace and tranquillity is required which is directly related to assured dividends to investors.