J&K Budget: To become self-reliant; Will not go to New Delhi with a Begging Bowl

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Puneet G


Important Numbers First

 

Total Public Expenditure Rs 46,473 Crore

Expenditure for Infrastructure Rs 11,246 Crore                                     CURRENT LIABILITY Rs 44,646 Crore

Earmarked for Revenue Expenditure Rs 35,227 Crore

         Resource Gap Rs 4,336 Crore


 With these numbers in the background, the PDP-BJP government has promised ‘Economic self-reliance‘ and ‘Fiscal autonomy‘ to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in its maiden budget. The 2015-16 Budget has brought smiles on the faces of those in tourism industry, entrepreneurs and government employees but more importantly for the Flood Victims who are still struggling hard to get their lives back on track.

Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu cast off the tradition of his predecessors by carrying an envelope instead of the customary briefcase said in his speech, “The total revenue receipts of the state are budgeted to be Rs 42,137 crore, leaving a resource gap of Rs 4336 crore. This will be financed by prepositioning of the 14th Finance Commission Grants without seeking any additional funding.”

The Government has made it clear that it would not go to the Centre asking for financial assistance with the aim to remove the tag of a state that lives on ‘Subsidies and Largesse’. The government has made promises of  restoring the ‘dignity’ of people, broaden the Constituency of peace in J&K and ‘use Budget to share the dividends of peace with people’. It did not come as surprise that with the ‘broadening of peace constituency’ element, Chief Minister Mufti sent a message across to Pakistan to curb down its inimical act.

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Of the Rs 46,473 Crore marked for total Public Expenditure, Rs 11,246 crore has been set apart for Infrastructure and the remainder of Rs 35,227 is earmarked for revenue expenditure.

In his speech, Drabu mentioned, “This is not a good position to be in. In fact it should be exactly the other way round.” Further hinting at the burden inherited from the past administrations in power he continued, “But there is no way I can help it as it is a legacy of the past 30 years if not more.”

The plan and non-plan classification from the past has been scrapped by the government and adding to this the minister said, “I have completely changed the framework of the state budget. Starting from the next fiscal (2015-2016), our Budget will now have only two parts: receipts and expenditure.” This has primarily been done for better monitoring of the public expenditure.

This budget has focused carefully on the farmers, traders and horticulture with plans in background to formulate schemes that finance future Budgets and reduce overall dependency on the Centre. The current liability of the state stands at a mountainous Rs 44, 646 crores which is the biggest roadblock in ‘kickstarting’ the economy of the state whose coffers are empty.

Dr. Drabu has emphasized on not looking for any assistance from New Delhi other than the grants that the constitution of India rewards for all special category states under the federal fiscal system.

Importantly, Dr. Drabu released the Dearness Allowance (DA) to state employees and pensioners waiving off Demand Charges on electricity for seven months starting September 2014 to March 2015. This is aimed at the easement to the flood hit population in the state.

He said, “The biggest issue facing us today is the rehabilitation of the flood victims and restoring their lives for which separate relief and rehabilitation department has been created.” The separate department as such is meant to pace up the relief activity for the 15 lakh families ‘affected and impacted‘ in the state.

The industrial policy, which was to end on March 31 has been extended till June 30 and a new Industrial policy is to be introduced on July 1. “The new Budget will help the local industry besides ensuring the revival of the economy. It will be a comprehensive one, catering to the needs of various sections of society. Special focus will be on accelerating the state’s fiscal growth and distributing its benefit to all sections.”

For the smallest and most venerable farmers who have an outstanding balance of less than Rs 1 Lakh, the government has proposed to waive 50 percent of Kissan Credit Card (KCC).