Monday, March 4, 2024

Harish does a balancing act

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-Presents a tax-free, deficit-less Budget of Rs 2.9lakh crore
-Revenue Expenditure is Rs 2,11,685 crore
-Proposed Capital Expenditure is Rs 37,525 crore

NAVEENA GHANATE
Hyderabad

Finance Minister T. Harish Rao did a balancing act and presented a tax-free, deficit-free budget of Rs 2,90,396 crore.

The election-year budget which is also the last budget of the current BRS government has no new schemes but it increased allocations for some of its flagship schemes.

The Budget for fiscal 2023-24 proposes a total expenditure of Rs 2,90,396 crore. Of this, Revenue Expenditure is Rs 2,11,685 crore and the proposed Capital Expenditure is Rs 37,525 crore.

The Budget outlay has been increased by about 13 per cent compared to fiscal 2022-23’s Rs 2.56 lakh crore.

Harish presented a tax-free budget with revenue receipts of Rs 2,16,566 crore which has increased by Rs 40,764 crore. The State’s tax revenue in the next financial year is projected at Rs 1,31,028 crore compared to last year’s Rs 1,10,592.28 crore. Non-tax revenue is expected to be Rs 22,808 crore higher than the current year’s Rs 15,291 crore.

The budget is projected to have a revenue surplus of Rs 4,881 crore by the next financial year compared to the revenue surplus of Rs 2,979.93 crore in 2022-23.

The fiscal deficit would be Rs 38,234 crore while the primary deficit had been pegged at Rs 15,827 crore for 2023-24. The fiscal deficit for 2022-23 as per revised estimates is Rs 42,647.44 crore.

As the Centre considers off-budget borrowings as debt, the state reduced open market loans to Rs 40,615.68 crore next year compared to Rs 44,970 crore this fiscal.

The State’s share of Central taxes is pegged at Rs 21,470 crore while grants-in-aid and contributions is expected to be Rs 41,259 crore in FY 2023-24.

Interest payments have gone up to Rs 22,407 crore in FY 24 compared to FY 23’s Rs 18,911 crore.

Presenting his fourth Budget in around an hour and 50 minutes, Harish announced Rs 1,000 crore to fund new recruitments to government departments and Rs 500 crore for providing infrastructure in all universities.

He proposed Rs 26,831 crore for agriculture and allied departments, which along with irrigation remained the priority of the government. For waiving farmers’ loans, the government allocated Rs 6,385 crore, an increase of Rs 2,385 crore over last year.

The allocation for Rythu Bandhu, the flagship scheme to provide investment support to farmers at the rate of Rs 10,000 per acre annually, has been increased marginally to Rs 15,075 crore. The allocation for providing insurance cover to farmers has been hiked from Rs 1,465 crore to Rs 1,589 crore.

Harish allotted Rs 26,885 crore for the irrigation sector and reiterated the government’s commitment to providing irrigation to an additional 50,24,000 acres in the next two to three years to take the total irrigated area to 1 crore 25 lakh acres.

Stating that Telangana is the only state in the country “providing uninterrupted 24-hour quality power supply” to all sectors of the economy and free power to the agriculture sector, he enhanced power subsidy to Rs 12,000 crore from Rs 10,500 crore in 2022-23.
The allocation for Aasara pensions, provided to various categories of beneficiaries, was enhanced by Rs 271 crore to Rs 12,000 crore in 2023-24.

The Minister allotted Rs 17,700 crore for the government’s flagship Dalit Bandhu scheme. This scheme will provide 1,100 Dalit families in each of the 118 Assembly constituencies Rs 10 lakh each to start new business ventures.

The allocation for the education department has been pegged at Rs 19,093 crore and for the medical and health department he allotted Rs 12,161 crore.

The Finance Minister gave Rs 2,500 crore for the maintenance of R&B roads and Rs 2,000 crore for the maintenance of Panchayat Raj roads.

He also announced that contract employees will be regularised and the pay scales of SERP employees will be revised from April 2023.

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