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Etala presents Rs 1.15 lakh surplus, tax-free budget

Hyderabad, March 11 (INN): Finance Minister Etala Rajender presented a surplus and tax-free budget of Rs 115,689 crore for the Telangana State for the financial year 2015-16.

The budget expenditure includes Rs 63,306 crore under Non-Plan and Rs 52,383 crore under Plan. The estimated revenue surplus is Rs 531 crore. The fiscal deficit is estimated at Rs 16,969 crore. As a percentage of GSDP, the estimated fiscal deficit is 3.49 per cent.

“The increase in non-plan expenditure as compared with 2014-15 is mainly on account of increased pay and allowances of government employees. The government has faced severe constraints in raising the Plan outlay in 2015-16 mainly no account of less than expected tax devolution from the award of the 14th Finance Commission and reduction in plan transfers from the Centre,” Etala said while presenting the first full-fledge budget of Telangana State.

The estimated tax devolution to the State is only Rs 12,823 crore in 2015-16. Consequently, plan grants to the State from the Centre are budgeted at Rs 6,497 crore in 2015-16 compared with Rs 11,781 crore in 2014-15. “But for the reduction in Central transfers, our government would have proposed a higher plan outlay,” he said.

“It is ironical that while the Centre has budgeted for a fiscal deficit of 3.9 per cent of GDP in 2015-16, States are being asked to adhere to the limit of 3% of GSDP. Though the Finance Commission has recommended an additional borrowing limit of 0.5 per cent of GSDP on fulfilling certain conditions, no decision has yet been taken by the Union Government on this recommendation,” Etala said.

The Finance Minister said that the growth of State economy has been witnessing deceleration since 2011-12. From a double digit average annual growth of 12.87 per cent in constant prices in the years 2004-09, growth has slipped to 4.1 per cent in 2012-13. As per the advance estimates, growth is expected to recover to 5.3 per cent in the current financial year 2014-15.

Etala informed that delayed monsoon and deficient rainfall reduced the agricultural growth by 10.3 per cent. However, the growth rate in service sector has increased from 5.9% in 2013-14 to 9.7% in 2014-15. Likewise, the industry sector registered a growth from 0.1% to 4.1%.

“The welfare of the people and all round development of Telangana are the guiding principles of State’s policies. Going by these guiding principles, the government has identified three priority areas – Welfare of weaker sections, agriculture and allied sectors and development of industrial sector. These are the three tenets of our policy,” the Finance Minister said.

The Finance Minister has allocated an amount of Rs 4,250 crore towards the payment of second installment of crop loan waiver scheme. The total provision for Agriculture and allied sectors stands at Rs 8,432 Crore. While Rs 1,000 crore has been allocated for purchase of land to be distributed among poor Dalits, the allocations for SC Welfare are Rs 5547.05 Cr; ST Welfare – Rs 2,878 Cr; SC Sub Plan – Rs 8,089 Cr; ST Sub Plan – Rs 5,036 Cr; BC Welfare – Rs 2,172 Cr; Minorities Welfare – Rs 1105 Cr; Women welfare – Rs 771 Crore (under ICDS scheme); Aasra Pensions – Rs 4,000 Cr; Beedi Workers – Rs 188 Cr; Food security and subsidy – Rs 2200 Cr; Employees welfare – Rs 22,889 Crore; Industrial Incentives – Rs 973.74 Cr and Energy – Rs 7,400 Cr.

The other major allocations include Mission Kakatiya – Rs 8,500 Cr; Road Development – Rs 2421 Cr; Water Grid – Rs 4,000 Cr; Health – Rs 4,932 Cr and Education – Rs 11,216 Cr.

Stating that he was presenting this year’s budget with more understanding and clarity, Etala said, “Budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations. Budget is a means for realising the aspirations of people. Using the public money prudently for the welfare of people is the sacred and non-negotiable duty of the government. I want to inform the House that this budget is an action plan for promoting the welfare of people of Telangana,” he said.