Monday, February 25, 2008

Rajasthan Chief Minister Presents a Financially Inclusive Budget 2008-09

- Revenue Surplus for the second consecutive year. Fiscal deficit reduced
- Equal emphasis on physical and social infrastructure of the state
- Focus on education, health and women's development
- All inter-state border check posts to be abolished from May 1, 2008
- 50 % reservation for women in all Panchayati Raj institutions
- Minimum wages for unskilled, semi skilled and skilled workers raised by one third.

The Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Smt Vasundhara Raje, who also holds the finance portfolio, today presented an upbeat budget for Rajasthan for the year 2008-2009.

It is noteworthy that Smt Raje presented the state budget ahead of the Union Budget, underlining the strong fiscal performance of the state. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister, said, "In four years, our Government has significantly enhanced the physical and social infrastructure of Rajasthan. This year we intend to not just consolidate the progress we have made in the last four years but also set the pace for all-round development. We are proud to present an inclusive budget which provides a fillip to industry while taking due care of the economically weaker sections of the society."

The highlights of the budget include approved plan expenditure for 2008-09 of Rs 15,248 crore, an estimated revenue surplus of Rs 1,183.14 crore (3.59% of revenue receipts) and fiscal deficit of Rs 5,266.91 crore (3% of GSDP).

Complimenting the state for its excellent performance, the CAG report for the year 2006-07 had recently noted that the state had achieved fiscal targets as laid down in the FRBM Act well before the timeline. The current year has ended in a revenue surplus of Rs 638 crore and fiscal deficit of Rs 3,970 crore which is 2.8% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).

The key highlights of the budget for various sectors are as follows:-

. The target of rural connectivity under Bharat Nirman Yojana has been achieved one year in advance, making Rajasthan first such state in the country. Rural connectivity increased to 73%, higher than the national average of 65 %
. 9,096 panchayat headquarters out of total 9,188 gram panchayat headquarters connected with pucca roads.

. Outlay for power section sector in 2008-09 at Rs 6,212 crore which is 40.74% of total plan.
. Installed power capacity raised to 6,395 MW and to further increase by 2,019 MW by the end of the current financial year.
. 4,916 feeders completed under the 'feeder renovation programme' leading to reduction of Transmission & Distribution losses by 9.37%.
. Focus on domestic electrification projects in rural areas.

Water resources
. Rs 50 crore provided for upkeep of old irrigation projects in 2008-09.
. Irrigation capacity exceeding one lakh hectares per year created in the last four years. A master plan will be prepared for an optimum utilization of available water which will provide irrigation for one lakh additional hectares.

. In an attempt to give a boost to the free movement of goods across the country, all inter-state border check posts to be abolished from May 1, 2008
. Budget of Rajasthan Mission on Livelihood raised from Rs 20.80 crore in 2004 to Rs 60 crore. Over one lakh youths equipped with employable skills.
. Four more animation academies to be established along with the academies of automotive design, draftsmanship and graphic design in 2008-09.
. Investment proposal exceeding Rs 500 crore in districts having no big projects will get customized package.

Medical & Health
. Medical facilities to be strengthened- Capacity expansion, new hospitals, new facilities in existing hospitals to be established
. Health Insurance schemes to be launched in all 33 districts of Rajasthan

. Additional state subsidy of 10-20% for drip irrigation schemes.
. Rajasthan Mission on Animal Husbandry has been established.

. The reservation for women in all Panchayati Raj institutions will be increased from 33% earlier to 50 %.
. The budget has led to strengthening of various social schemes for women, BPL families, rural and urban development.
. All girls completing necessary agricultural education will be appointed as Agricultural Supervisors.
. Women's hockey academy to be established in Ajmer next year.

Economically backward classes
. Launched the largest financial inclusion scheme connected to health insurance for all BPL families in the state - a novel scheme in which Rs 1,500 will be given to all the families covered under the health insurance scheme upon opening a bank account enabled with a smart card in the name of the female member of the family. This scheme will draw women across the state into the formal financial system and ensure they have access to credit, bank loans, etc. The scheme will be extended to groups like SCs, ST's and farmers.
. The minimum wages for unskilled workers raised from Rs 73 to Rs 100.
. Honorarium of aanganwadi workers raised from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,600, Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 for saathins and Rs 500 to Rs 800 for sahayikas.

Human Resources Development
. All government schools whose students get selected in the National Talent Scholarship Scheme will be awarded a prize of Rs 50,000 per student.

. Simplification of tax procedures - computerization of commercial taxes department is underway. E-filing has been introduced since January 2008. E-refund to be available from August 2008.
. Harmonized system of nomenclature (HSN), followed worldwide as a standard, will be introduced for the betterment of the VAT system.

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