Education, power and social welfare find prominence in Bihar’s election year budget presented in the state assembly today.
The budget 2015-16 has set aside Rs 22,027 crore for education, while energy sector has got Rs 8,436.90 crore. It has earmarked Rs 4,179.20 crore for social welfare. The backward caste & the most backward caste welfare has got Rs 1,975.30 crore and SC/ST welfare Rs 1,497.52 crore.
Presenting budget with a revenue surplus of Rs 11,980.95 crore, Finance Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav said: “We too have been affected from economic slowdown at global and national level over the past couple of years as a result of which our receipts from diverse sources have come down in the current fiscal.”
Despite these constraints, the state government has successfully managed its economy and financial aspect in particular and set a target of 9.29 per cent increase in total receipts of Rs 1,20,914.40 crore. Revenue receipts are pegged at Rs 1,03,189.06 crore, while the revenue expenditure is projected at Rs 91,208.11 crore, giving a surplus of Rs 11,980.95 crore. The capital receipts are pegged at Rs 17,725.33 crore.
Yadav said the surplus revenue at the state government’s disposal will be used for investment in physical infrastructure to generate productive capital assets like roads, buildings, power, school, health centres and irrigation. Explaining the Nitish Kumar government’s thrust areas for development in the election year, Yadav said education, energy, welfare, rural works, road construction, rural development, health, panchayati raj and agriculture have been allocated sizeable funds out of the total proposed expenditure at 1,21,154.33 crore in next fiscal.
Briefing the reporters later, Finance Commissioner Rameshwar Singh expressed the confidence about health of the state economy and demanded flexible approach from the Centre to allow Bihar to borrow beyond three per cent limit of the GSDP under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM), 2003 to sustain development projects. Bihar’s economic health is robust and “we can repay whatever loan we take from the market for development works,” Singh said and suggested that the borrowing limit under the FRBM should be raised at four per cent in our case.
Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi expressed disappointment, saying that neither new schemes have been announced nor there was any direction for development in it. Describing the budget as directionless and discouraging, Modi said there will not be employment generation on either agriculture or industries front due to lack of focus and priorities of the state government on economic issues.
Bihar is slated to go to polls in November this year.