Akhilesh eyes 2014 polls, presents tax-free budget

Akhilesh eyes 2014 polls, presents tax-free budget

Sops include loan waiver, easy credit for UP farmers

Despite the state’s poor economic health and its failure to spend funds sanctioned in the previous budget, there are sops galore in the Uttar Pradesh budget with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav presented the tax-free deficit budget for the next financial year in the state Assembly on Tuesday.

Akhilesh, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced a host of development projects even though 50 per cent of the funds sanctioned in the previous budget still remain unutilised.

Bahujan Samaj Party members staged a noisy walk out against the non-utilisation of these funds.

Among the sops, the Samajwadi Party government has announced waiver of farm loans as part of  a special package for farmers in the backward Bundelkhand region.
The budget sets aside Rs 1,650 crore for the loan waiver scheme to benefit around eight lakh farmers. It also allotted Rs. 200 crore for free irrigation facilities.

The ambitious Kanya Vidya Dhan scheme, which provides assistance to girls who want to study beyond class 10, has been relaunched. The students will now get free education up to graduation at all government and aided educational institutions.

Woos minorities

In a bid to woo Muslims and other minorities, the government earmarked Rs 350 crore for assistance to girls from the minority community for their marriage or education after class 10.

The government also plans multi-purpose educational hubs in minority-dominated areas. It has allocated Rs 300 crore for construction of boundary walls around graveyards.

Akhilesh also announced loans to farmers at low interest. They can avail a short-term loan of up to Rs 3 lakh at three per cent interest through primary cooperative agriculture societies.

Though the government could not provide students  with the free computers promised in the previous academic session, it has allocated Rs 1,418 crore for laptops and Rs 320 crore for tablets for the next fiscal.

The government said that it would start distributiing them “very soon”.

The budget crossed Rs 2 lakh crore for the first time. Its total size size is Rs 2,21,201 crore, which is 10.5 per cent more than the previous one. The deficit for the coming financial year was projected at Rs 23,913 crore, which is 2.94 per cent of the state’s gross domestic product.

The budgetary proposals projected total receipts of Rs 2,15,920 crore during 2013-14 — Rs 1,77,748 crore of revenue receipts and Rs 38,172 crore of capital receipts. No new taxes have been proposed.

Akhilesh said the Samajwadi Party regime tried to fulfil the promises it made in its election manifesto. He added that his government did not get enough time to spend the sanctioned funds.

The budget provides Rs 14,590 crore for social welfare projects and Rs 7,033 crore for healthcare schemes. Altogether 280 projects have been announced for which a provision of Rs 13,650 crore has been made.

‘Anti-people’

The CM said the budget will take the state on the path of progress and help achieve 8.5 per cent growth rate. But the opposition said it was disappointing and anti-people.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader  Swami Prasad Maurya said when the gvernment has failed to utilise the already allocated funds, there was no need for a new budget.
The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party said the budget lacked direction and there was nothing in it for the common people.

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