₹5,47,450-crore Maharashtra budget offers aid for farmers, eco-friendly development and employment

Shinde-Fadnavis government’s first budget focuses on sustainable agriculture, prosperous farmers, inclusive for women, tribals, backward class, among other schemes 

March 10, 2023 08:25 am | Updated 08:26 am IST - Mumbai

Mumbai: Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde along with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis addresses the media after presentation of the Maharashtra State Budget for the year 2023-24, in Mumbai, Thursday, March 9, 2023.

Mumbai: Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde along with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis addresses the media after presentation of the Maharashtra State Budget for the year 2023-24, in Mumbai, Thursday, March 9, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government on Thursday presented its first budget, a massive ₹5,47,450 crore for the next financial year 2023-24, based on the principle of ‘Panchamrut’, with a focus on farmers, women, tribals, development of the infrastructure with substantial capital investment, employment, and eco-friendly development.

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is also the State Finance minister, started reading out the budgetary allocations in the Lower House of the legislature from an iPad, while his Cabinet colleague and Shinde faction Shiv Sena leader Deepak Kesarkar read out the budget proposals in the Legislative Council.

Of the total budget, revenue receipts to the tune of ₹4,49,522 crore in the next fiscal, the revenue expenditure is projected at ₹ 4,65,522 crore, while the revenue deficit of the budget was ₹ 16,112 crore, and the fiscal deficit was ₹95,500.80 crore with a total outlay of ₹ 1,72,000 crore.

During the budget presentation, Mr. Fadnavis said that the Amnesty Scheme, 2023, for the Goods and Services Tax Department will be called ‘Maharashtra Settlement of Arrears of Tax, Interest, Penalty or Late Fee Act, 2023’. “Under this scheme, there will be a complete waiver of the arrears in cases where arrears are ₹ 2 lakh or less per year, as a result, small dealers will be benefited in around one lakh cases,” he said.

He said that said the outlay for farmers has been increased by ₹ 6,900 crore and the coverage of the Mahatma Phule Jan Arogya scheme, a health insurance scheme of the government, has been raised from ₹1.5 lakh to ₹5 lakh.

The budget also proposes ₹ 6,000 investment support to farmers and ₹1 crop insurance scheme and also offers relief in professional tax to working women salaried up to ₹ 25,000, 50 % concession on ticket fares to women travelling by State-run buses and ‘Lek Ladki’, a new scheme for the girl child.

“For increasing the income of Annadata Baliraja (farmer), I announce the ‘Namo Shetkari Mahasanman Nidhi’ scheme under which the State government will provide an additional ₹ 6,000 per farmer, apart from ₹6,000 investment support per farmer every year from the Central government,” Mr. Fadnavis said. As many as 1.15 crore farmer families will benefit from it and the government will bear a burden of Rs 6,900 crore, he said.

This also marks the first budget of Mr. Fadnavis, as during his tenure as Chief Minister between 2014-2019, senior BJP leader and current Forest and Environment Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar was the Finance Minister. The Shinde-Fadnavis government came to power in June last, toppling the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The senior BJP leader announced the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana for farmers at ₹1 and said the government will bear the financial burden of ₹ 3,312 crore.

“Under the earlier crop insurance scheme, the farmers had to pay two per cent of the crop insurance premium. Now, the farmers will not need to pay anything as the government will pay the premium amount,” he said.

The government has also raised the honorarium for ASHA workers from ₹8,500 to ₹10,000 per month, and announced ‘Shakti Sadan’, a new scheme to provide shelter, legal aid, medical care and counselling to women in distress, liberated from sexual exploitation or facing domestic violence. The scheme will be launched with the assistance of the central government by combining the Swadhar, Ujjwala schemes. “Fifty new Shakti Sadans will be started under the scheme,” he said.

The Minister announced ‘Modi Awas’ Gharkul Yojana under which as many as 10 lakh houses will be built in the next three years for backward class beneficiaries with ₹12,000 crore. He said that 50 kilometres of Metro lines will be made operational in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region this year.

Announcing the ‘Lek Ladki’ scheme, Mr. Fadnavis said that for yellow and orange ration card holder families, a subsidy of ₹ 5,000 will be given after birth of a girlchild, ₹ 4,000 in Class 1, ₹ 6,000 in Class 6 and ₹ 8,000 in Class 11. After completing 18 years of age, a cash amount of ₹75,000 will be given to the beneficiary girl,” he said.

Further, Mr. Fadnavis said that under the new logistics policy of Maharashtra, a logistics hub will be created on 1,000 acres of land in Nagpur and a grand gems and jewellery park in Navi Mumbai, apart from other schemes and projects.

“An investment of ₹ 75,000 crore is expected in the field of green hydrogen, green ammonia, solar and wind energy. Solar power projects will be set up in 20,000 Gram Panchayats,” he said.

He also announced a string of corporations and boards for the welfare of various communities, including Ramoshi and Lingayat, and his budget speech by reading verses of Saint Tukaram Maharaj and Saint Dnyaneshwar Maharaj.

Meanwhile, the Opposition criticised the budget and said it was prepared with the forthcoming Mumbai civic body polls and Lok Sabha elections in mind. Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar said the budget 2023-24 lacked vision and direction.

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