BUDGET PRESENTED, EYE BROWS RAISED

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Branded by the Leader of Opposition as a product of obfuscation and a sample of financial farce, the State Budget for 2007-08 was presented on June 1 by Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadei in Orissa Assembly in the last moment of the day.

It is a full-fledged Budget, as the Finance minister puts it, over and above the Vote-on-Account Budget passed in the month of March.

“Taking into account the State’s own tax and non-tax revenue, State’s share from central taxes and grant-in-aid from Centre, while State’s total revenue receipt during 2007-08 has been estimated at Rs.19467.20 crores, the revenue expenditure has been estimated at Rs.18421.44 crores. As against the revenue surplus of Rs.481.44 crores and Rs.747.76 crores in 2005-06 and 2006-07 (revised estimate) respectively, it has been estimated at Rs.1045.76crores for 2007 -08”, said the Minister.

On the other hand, according to him, “in the Capital Account, the estimated expenditure would be more by Rs.1220.43 crores than the receipt. The expenditure on account of Capital Outlay, disbursement of loans and repayment of installment of earlier loans taken together would be more than the receipts from the loans and advances from different sources together with the recovery of loans. In toto, the deficit in the consolidated fund has been estimated at Rs.174,67,04,000/- and an equal amount has been estimated as surplus in he Public Account. On the whole, the receipts and expenditure have been balanced taking into account the Revenue account, Capital Account and Public Account together”

So, he claimed, “This is a balanced Budget with revenue surplus”.

The departmental Standing Committees would of course review and react on the provisions before the House takes up voting on demands for grants.

But as is now discernible, the contractor friendly departments like Water Resources and Work have received larger chunks when the largest chunk is offered to the department of School and Mass Education, keeping in mind construction and maintenance need of buildings under its control spread in every nook and corner of the State. When Water Resources department is offered with Rs.1140.75 crores and Works department with Rs.1118.89 crores, this department is favored with Rs.2196.98 crores.

In the small allocation segment, placed are the departments of Forest & Environment (387.19cr.), Higher Education (455.63 cr) and Agriculture (479.88 cr). Even the department of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Development that addresses around half of the State’s population, all most all of whom are in dire despondency has got a small allocation of Rs.599.72 crores, agendas proposed therein not being alluring to contractors.

This is just to mention a few instances.

However, the MLAs have been given a royal treat by offer of Rs.147 crores to their Local Area Dvelopment domains including a sum of Rs.36.75 crores for expenditure with retrospective effect. Their per capita quota has been increased from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.75 lakh, which justifies this, the Finance Minister has said.

In the Budget, large chunks of Rs.170 crores are earmarked to inculcate Biju Patnaik, the father of the present Chief Minister, as the fountainhead of development, in the minds of the electorate, for his sheer personalized political gain, as he has no political entity other than his father’s identity.

Biju Patnaik was a business operator turned politician who was repeatedly rejected by the people for his corrupt practices and even before his demise, people of Orissa had thrown him out of power for his malfeasances.

It is a shame that when the entire amount of offer to development of agriculture, as highlighted by Ghadei constitutes a paltry sum of Rs.34.68 crores, only two items meant to make a propaganda of Biju’s name, are offered with Rs.170 crores!

The Finance Minister has bragged over enhancement of State Plan under Agriculture department from Rs.48.08 crores in 2006-07 to Rs.60.65 crores in 2007-08. But this entire amount is not even 37 percent of what has been placed for propaganda of Biju’s name.

We had earlier thrown light on the notoriety called Biju K.B.K.Yojana. This Budget has put 120 crores under this mischief. A new mischief has been added to this in the style of Biju Gram Jyoti. A sum of Rs.50 crores has been allotted to this. Thus a total sum of Rs.170 crores is allocated in the Budget to what can be termed as the Biju-propaganda fund.

For such a notorious purpose, when a sum of Rs.170 crores is proposed to be spent, the Western Orissa Development Council, considered the last hope for Orissa’s survival in her present geographical form, is given only Rs.30 crores in the Budget.

The Orissa State Employment Mission, meant to ensure employment to the starving people of the State, is assured with only Rs.16.10 crores. It constitutes less than 10 per cent of the Biju-propaganda fund created in the Budget as shown supra.

When the assertionists of so-called Biju legacy in our parliament claim credit for having harped on establishment of National Institute of Science in Orissa under direction of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who, according to them, puts utmost emphasis on science education, the Budget has proposed a provision of only Rs.20 lakhs for the Orissa Science Academy. How does this amount appear when compared with the Rs.170 crores Biju-propaganda fund highlighted in the Budget?

Juxtapose other items of development too with the Biju-propaganda fund and see the difference. The Finance Minister has highlighted allocation of Rs.100 crores for rural development. The Biju-propaganda fund is higher than this by Rs.70 crores. The Finance Minister has highlighted that Rs.3 crores has been provided for “preparation and display of high quality cinema and for promotion of tourism”. It does not constitute even 2 percent of the Biju-propaganda fund!

What wonder then is there if the Leader of Opposition calls this Budget a product of obfuscation and a sample of financial farce!

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