Cows, religion, river revival key in tax-free MP budget

Bhopal, July 10 : The seven-month old Congress government in Madhya Pradesh avoided imposing any fresh taxes as Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot presented a Budget of over Rs 2.33 lakh crore in the state assembly on Wednesday.

The government, which has been focussing on 'soft Hindutva' since even before last year's assembly elections, has earmarked Rs 132 crore for cattle welfare.

And, in a balancing act, it has substantially raised the grant to the state Waqf Board and Haj committee.

Reaffirming the government's commitment for conservation of cows, the budget allocated Rs 132 crore for 1,000 cow shelters.

The daily allowance for maintenance of cows at gaushalas has been revised from Rs 4 to Rs 20.

The government has proposed three models of maintenance of cow shelters - the convergence model that would be supported by state funds, a corporate model with commercial aims and a third one would involve temples and lands associated with them.

The budget also proposed a three-fold hike in the honorarium of priests working in registered temples.

It also set apart a budget for developing the Ram Van Gaman Path, tracing the mythological route undertaken by Lord Ram during his years of exile in the forests of Madhya Pradesh.

This was part of the Congress manifesto in the 2018 elections.

The budget also raised the allocation for farmer welfare and agri-development sector by 6 per cebt.

An amount of Rs 1,000 crore has been allotted for Right to Water and 40 rivers in 36 districts would be revived, the minister said.

This was one of the exclusive proposals of the Congress party and aroused considerable curiosity.

"In a short span of time, our government has ensured that 17 big industries start production in the state," Bhanot said.

Amid noisy scenes the minister announced that farm loans of 20 lakh farmers were waived off and in the second phase, Rs 8,000 crore has been provisioned for the same.

Another Rs 1,000 crore has been allocated for capitalisation of co-operative banks.

Various allocations were made for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities.

"Besides, the grants for the Madhya Pradesh Waqf Board and the Haj committee have been hiked. More than Rs 821 crore has been earmarked for the OBC and Minorities Department," Bhanot said.

In the first full-time budget of the Congress after a gap of 15 years, Bhanot did not announce any taxes as a cess of Rs 2 per litre was announced on petrol and diesel earlier.

"We shall raise revenue from revised tax structure in mining, excise and transport sector," he said.

The state government would work for ensuring Right to Health for all, Bhanot said.

An expressway would be developed between Indore and Bhopal along with satellite towns, industrial areas and a dry port.

The state government has complained of raw deal by the Centre in the allocation of allocation of funds to the state in the Union Budget.

The Opposition raised objections to the state government's move to impose further cess on fuel.

Bhanot presented a budget of Rs 2,33,605 crore with an expected fiscal deficit of 3.34 per cent and revenue surplus of Rs 732 crore.

The minister said the BJP had left an empty coffers for the new government and receipt of tax share from the Centre was also reducing gradually and in the latest vote of account, the Centre had reduced MP's share by over Rs 2,677 crore.

"We have urged the Finance Commission to increase our tax share from 42 to 50 per cent," he said.

The state government also announced a scheme for branding of indigenous products like 'Mawa Jalebi' of Jabalpur, the 'Gajak' of Morena, the Mawa Bati of Malwa, Chanderi saris, Ratlam's 'Namkin', the 'Bagh' print of Dhar and bronze items of Chhatarpur.

The budget provides Rs 2,472 crore to fight malnutrition and a pilot project in this direction would soon be initiated in nine worst-affected districts.



Source: IANS