The Vijay Rupani-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s first budget since re-election last year seeks to address farm distress and youth unemployment, making special provisions in these areas. The fall in the BJP’s seat tally from 115 to 99 in the assembly elections is attributed to rural distress and unemployment.
The budget included a series of sops for various sections of the society across sectors, allocating large amounts for education, Narmada and health.
The revenue surplus in the state increased to Rs5,946 crore in FY2016-17 from Rs1,704 crore in FY2015-16, Patel said in his budget speech, adding that fiscal deficit was at a record low of 1.42% of GSDP in 2016-17 compared to 2.24% of GSDP in 2015-16. Tax collections during the last fiscal grew by 20% and manufacturing growth was at 13%.
The budget made a provision of Rs500 crore for zero-interest farm loan, Rs1,100 crore for crop insurance, Rs235 crore for minimum support prices and Rs200 crore for fencing fields to keep off wild boars.
A provision of Rs780 crore has been made to provide opportunities of employment and vocations to youths, Nitin Patel announced in the budget. He also announced that 30,000 new recruitments will be made by the Gujarat government in the next fiscal.
Patel announced 10 schemes at a cost of Rs2,800 crore for providing drinking water in tribal areas.
For the economically backward sections, the government made a provision of Rs506 crore, to be allotted to the newly formed Gujarat Binanamat Educational & Economical Development Corporation.
The government also announced a provision of Rs280 crore for development of the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) that falls under the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project of the centre.
Hailing it as a welfare budget, chief minister Rupani said it aims to promote social equality and all round development.
The opposition members of Congress party walked out of the assembly as soon as Nitin Patel began his budget speech. Speaker Rajendra Trivedi had asked Congress legislator Harshad Ribadiya to be taken away from the Assembly for throwing groundnuts in the House.
Ribadiya began shouting slogans as soon as Patel began listing the BJP government’s achievement in procuring groundnut and cotton from farmers at minimum support price. Soon after this, the Congress legislators walked out of the House.
Key allocations include: Rs27,500 crore for education, Rs14,895 crore for Narmada project and water resources, Rs9,750.50 crore for health and family welfare, Rs9,252 crore for roads and buildings projects, Rs7,239 crore for rural housing and rural development, Rs6,755 crore for agriculture, Rs5,420 crore for home affairs, Rs4,410 for industry and mines department, Rs3,641 crore for social justice and empowerment, and Rs3,080 crore for women and child welfare.
The state government made separate provisions for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects, allocating Rs899 crore for construction of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity on the banks of the Narmada river and Rs30 crore to develop sea plane services.
Of the various sops, Patel announced an allocation of Rs64 crore to provide free bicycles to 184,000 girls, providing tablets to over 300,000 students at a subsidized cost of Rs1,000 each, a ‘Mukhyamantri Apprenticeship Scheme’ that provides for a stipend of Rs3,000 per month for those taking industrial training after completion of professional courses, Rs4,000 stipend for women employees in addition to the salary they earn every month, R 1,921 crore to provide 122,000 new agriculture power connections, Rs80 crore for setting up 87 new food centres for daily wage earners and labourers across the state to provide subsidised food at Rs10 per plate and an outlay of Rs2 crore to start a boat ambulance service in coastal areas of the state.