The cash-strapped Maharashtra government has proposed an outlay of Rs 100 crores in the State Budget for a national monument of the Maratha King Shivaji in the Arabian Sea, an election promise of the Congress-NCP government. The pre-election budget was tabled on Friday, four months ahead of the assembly polls.
It has also made a provision of Rs 3.5 crores for a monument of Shahu Maharaj at a Textile Mill in Kolhapur. In Mumbai too, it is planning a statue of Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar at the India United Mill.
The government’s debt has however, ballooned to over Rs 3 lakh crores. “There is no financial discipline. Until the government borrows money, it cannot even pay salaries,” alleged Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse.
However, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who controls the Finance portfolio said the debt was well within the norms. “Our debt is 13.5 per cent of the State Domestic Product. In Gujarat and Goa, the ratio is 16.5 per cent. The RBI norms require the debt to be below 20 per cent of State Domestic Product,” Mr Pawar pointed out.
The budget also announced a series of relief measures for farmers, especially those affected by the recent hailstorms in the state, with Rs 2,350 crores being drawn from the Contingency Fund. The government has doubled the minimum assistance given to the farmers and agreed to pay their power bills from January to June 2014. It will also pay interest on crop loans.
The government also announced a Krushi Sanjeevani Scheme for farmers who cannot pay their bills on time on account of natural calamities.
The budget does not address the ticklish issues of the Local Body Tax which traders have been demanding, be scrapped. Or its decision on the recovery of road tolls in the state, against which Opposition parties have been agitating. “Our stand on these issues will be announced by the end of the assembly session,” said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.