Haryana becomes revenue deficit state again after budget

February 13th, 2009 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Feb 13 (IANS) After having been a revenue surplus state for nearly four years, Haryana has once again become a revenue deficit state, after the new budget for 2009-10 was presented to the state assembly Friday.
Finance Minister Birender Singh said the revenue deficit in 2009-10 will be Rs.33.84 billion. He said this was mainly due to the economic meltdown being faced globally and was not alarming for the state.

Singh announced an economic stimulus package of Rs.15 billion to boost the infrastructure sector in the state and create more jobs.

“We can manage this deficit. Some part of this is due to the pay revision of government employees. Cash reserves are enough to manage this gap. It is not insurmountable but the state will slip back to being a revenue deficit one,” Singh told reporters after presenting his fifth budget as Haryana’s finance minister.

Just a couple of hours before Singh presented his annual budget, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced a series of sops worth Rs.7 billion for all sections of society, including senior citizens, retired pensioners, freedom fighters, unemployed persons, the handicapped, destitute children, members of panchayati raj institutions, anganwadi workers and helpers and milk producers.

Old age pension has been enhanced from Rs.300 per month to Rs.500 per month.

Unemployment allowance for youth has also been raised for various categories. Pension to widows has been increased from Rs.350 to Rs.550 per month.

The finance minister defended the sops even though no provision had been made in the budget for them.

“The Rs.700 crore (Rs. 7 billion) sops are not a problem that we cannot manage. The chief minister did not keep me in the dark about these,” Singh said.

The 2009-10 budget is roughly worth Rs.100 billion. Singh said a shortfall of Rs.4 billion in revenue collection is expected this year due to the economic slowdown.

Hooda too defended the announcement of the incentives and the timing of its announcement just hours before the state’s annual budget.

“Despite the deficit this year and next, we will be able to manage these incentives. The decision to announce the incentives for the cross section of society is not a political stunt just before the elections but something that has come from the heart,” Hooda said.

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