Budget ensures progress for all sections of society

Budget ensures progress for all sections of society

By OUR CORRESPONDENT | GANDHINAGAR | 5 June, 2016
Given the rising aspirations of the people, the state government’s balanced yet forward-thinking budget for 2016-17 is an attempt to achieve holistic growth.
On 23 February 2016, Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabhbhai Patel presented the Budget for 2016-17, making it the third budget to be presented under the leadership of Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. In her welcoming address after the Budget session, Chief Minister said that this year’s budget aims to further the holistic and balanced development of the state, and will help accelerate the progress made under the “Gatisheel Gujarat” drive. 
Budget 2016-17 has a total outlay of Rs 1,51,852 crore, which represents a 13% increase compared to last year. What is of particular interest, is that there is an overall surplus of Rs 245 crore and more importantly, a revenue surplus of Rs 3,236 crore, which makes it the sixth consecutive budget to have one.
The revenue receipts for 2016-17 are estimated at Rs 1,16,366 crore, representing an 11% increase from the revised revenue receipt estimates for the last financial year. The total receipts from state taxes for 2016-17 is estimated at Rs 71,370 crore, while non-tax revenue is estimated at Rs 12,428 crore. The state’s own Revenue Receipts are estimated to increase by 12% in 2016-17 over the revised estimates for 2015-16. 
The proposed expenditure for 2016-17 stands at Rs 85,558 crore, compared to Rs 79,295 crore in the last fiscal.
Budget 2016-17 was a tough balancing act for the Chief Minister. With Gujarat being one of the fastest growing states in the country, aspirations of the people are also rising. And to meet those demands, the Gujarat government’s balanced yet forward-thinking budget to achieve holistic growth is commendable.
 
Accelerating Social Sector Growth
With Rs 40,285.52 crore, about 47% of this year’s budget has been dedicated to social services, which is Rs 1,801.37 crore higher than last year’s outlay. Proposals include a number of initiatives across sectors such as primary health, education, drinking water, housing, nutrition, employment, cleanliness, welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and women and child development. Some of these schemes include the following:
A provision of Rs 8,212.05 crore has been made under Plan & Non-Plan for the Health and Family Welfare Department.
Provision of Rs 2,615.81 crore has been made under Plan & Non Plan for Women & Child Welfare Department.
Under Integrated Child Development Scheme, a provision of Rs 2,325.22 crore has been made to cover 45.55 lakh beneficiaries in 53,029 Anganwadi Centres.
Following the popularity of the Mukhymantri Amrutam Yojana and the Ma Vatsalaya Yojana, the Budget allocated a further increase of Rs 160 crore to the programme.
Provision of Rs 102.75 crore has been made to the 108 Emergency Service Number, as well as for 100 additional new ambulances.
To improve nutrition among the primary school children, Anganwadi children and lactating mothers, a provision of Rs 311.95 crore  has been made under the Doodh Sanjivani Yojana.
An outlay of Rs 2,729.33 crore was made in the budget under both Plan and Non-Plan head for the Social Justice & Empowerment Department.
A provision of Rs 945 crore has been made under the budget for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes.
 
Yuva Vikas Varsh
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel also announced that 2016-17 will be known as the year of youth development or “Yuva Vikas Varsh”, in the memory of freedom fighter and leader of the Mahagujarat Movement Indulal Kanaiyalal Yagnik, affectionately known in Gujarat as “Indu Chacha”. Some of the key initiatives taken by the government for development and empowerment of the youth include the following:
Increasing the budget for the Mukhyamantri Yuva Swavalamban Yojana (MYSY) by Rs 1,000 crore.
Qualifying criteria for MYSY has been relaxed as upper income limit has been increased from Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh and the percentile limit has been reduced from 90 to 80.
To harness youth skills for public services, 66,000 youth will be placed in different government services across Gujarat.
A provision of Rs one crore has been made to set up a National Institute of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, under the Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute as part of “Start up India “and “Stand up India” drives.
Rs 23,815.74 crore was allocated to the Education Department, with the focus on improving quality of education in Gujarat.
The “Gujarat Startup Mission” was established in order encourage greater innovation and ideas among Gujarat’s youth.
 
Third Consecutive Gender Budget
Continuing its commitment to women’s empowerment, a “Gender budget” was presented for the third year in a row. This new budget has allocated Rs 50,585 crore for gender-related schemes, an increase of Rs 2,739 crore against last year. This budget has incorporated 611 women empowerment schemes within it, and allocated Rs 2,089 crore for the special requirements of women and girls for education, health, nutrition, skill enhancement and economic empowerment. Other important steps include:
Rs 31.56 crore has been allocated to develop government hostels for girls.
Rs 70 crore has been allocated to the Vidya Lakshmi Bond which provides incentives to girls from BPL (Below Poverty Line) families.
An allocation of Rs 117.37 crore was made for economic empowerment and skill up-gradation of women.
Rs 5 crore will be provided for a “Mother & Child Hospital” to be established in Ahmedabad.
A provision of Rs 2.10 crore will be made to establish 75 new “Nari Adalats” across various talukas in Gujarat.
 
Agriculture Development
In order to ensure continued growth in agriculture and also provide support to farmers during natural calamities, the Budget has allocated Rs 5,792.45 crore under plan and non-plan for the Agriculture and Co-operation Department. The following are the main provisions of the Budget:
Rs 300 crore for Rashtriya Krushi Vikas Yojana. 
To protect farmers from agricultural risk and crop loss during a natural calamity, crop insurance cover will be provided for Kharif, Rabi and Commercial crops under Khedut Akasmat Bima Yojana, a part of the Pradhanmantri Fasal Bima Yojana. A provision of Rs 495.67 crore has been made for this scheme.
Agricultural loans to be available at an interest rate of 1%. Furthermore, loans up to Rs 3 lakh to be provided at a rate of 1% for Kharif crops. 
Rs 228.50 crore has been allocated to create 50 locations from the Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation, to store fertilisers. The combined storage capacity will be 2 lakh metric tonnes. 
Allocation of Rs 4,010.75 crore has been made in the Budget to provide electricity at a subsidised rate to farmers. 
Provision of Rs 1,643.50 crore to provide electrical connections to one lakh farmers in tribal and coastal areas. 
Rs 10 crore has been earmarked to establish an Organic Farming University, the first-of-its-kind in India. The University will promote and develop organic farming and horticulture.
 
Water Management
On the back of many successful water development schemes such as the Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojna (SAUNI), as well as the Narmada Bulk Pipeline Project, the Gujarat government has made provisions in the Budget to further strengthen water infrastructure in the state. Some of these provisions included the following:
The Budget has allocated Rs 9,050 crore for the Sardar Sarovar Yojana.
Rs 765 crore has been allocated to assist farmers engaged in Drip Irrigation, in approximately 3 lakh hectares of land.
A provision of Rs 5,244 crore has been made to the Water Resources and Kalpsar Division. This includes Rs  919 crore allocated to the creation of a irrigation facility for Schedule Tribe Farmers.
To increase the water storage capacity, it has been planned to deepen 470 small check-dams, 270 big check-dams and 850 ponds and repair check-dams and undertake desilting of reservoirs. Out of these works, deepening of 170 small check-dams, 100 large check-dams and 180 ponds will be undertaken in tribal areas from Ambaji to Umargam. Rs 329 crore has been allocated for this task.
Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated for the Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Sinchai Yojana (SAUNI).
Provision made for Rs 102 crore for a feasibility report on Kalpsar Project.
Urban & Rural Development
Through this budget, the Gujarat government has managed to make provisions for both rural and urban development, which will see the quality of life in both areas improve even further. Some of the key highlights of the Budget for urban development are as follows:
Rs 1,1256.88 crore allocated under Plan & Non-Plan for Urban Development and Urban Housing Department. 
Allocation of Rs 750 crore to provide affordable housing to the urban poor. Also a new slum rehabilitation policy has been announced to reconstruct houses that are 20 years old or in a dilapidated condition, including those belonging to the Gujarat Housing Board on a PPP basis. 
Annual income limit for the beneficiaries of the above scheme will be increased for the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) category, from Rs one lakh to Rs 3 lakh. And for the L.I.G (Lower Income Group) category, the income limit will be increased from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.
Rs 800 crore allocated to develop basic infrastructure for “Smart Cities” selected under the “Smart City” scheme. Basic infrastructure will also be developed in 31 cities selected under the Amrut Yojana. 
With regard to rural development, the Gujarat Budget has made the following provisions:
Rs 6,729.42 crore allocated under Plan and Non-Plan for Panchayat, Rural Housing and Rural Development Department.
Rs 185 crore has been allocated for the Smart Village scheme; 300 Smart Villages will be developed in a year. Each village will be identified and developed through a transparent competition. Special assistance will be provided by the state government for the first three years. 
A provision of Rs 223.75 crore was made to strengthen drinking water and drainage systems in urban villages.
State government has undertaken the “Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak Yojana” to ensure quality roads to 18,000 villages and 16,245 hamlets. The plan will cost Rs 10,000 crore over three years, and Rs 2,500 crore has been allocated for this financial year.

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