Kolkata: With an eye on the Assembly elections next year and civic , West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra placed the last full budget of his government at Rs 2,55,677 crore with limited deficit of Rs 8 crore on Monday.
Mitra proposed new subsidies and schemes for all sections, including free electricity for consumers with quarterly consumption of up to 75 units, and waived agricultural income tax for tea garden workers.
This is the last full budget of the Mamata Banerjee-led government in the state ahead of next year's Assembly polls in the state. With an eye on the 2021 polls and the upcoming election in 107 civic bodies in the state, the budget by the Trinamool Congress government gave sops primarily to the social sector and reached out to the backward sections of the state, where the BJP has made deep inroads in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
An amount of Rs 500 crore was allocated for new social security schemes — ‘Joy Johar’ and ‘Bandhu’. Under the ‘Joy Johar Scheme’, tribal people, above the age of 60 years and who are not part of any other pension scheme, will get a monthly pension of Rs 1,000 per month.
As part of the ‘Bandhu Scheme’, people belonging to Scheduled Caste communities above the age of 60 years and are not beneficiaries of any other pension scheme will get a pension of Rs 1,000 every month.
Mitra allocated Rs 500 crore separately for the development of tribal communities, Rs 100 crore towards support for new medium and small scale industries and Rs 500 crore towards loan/subsidies for unemployed youth for setting up business/projects costing up to Rs 2 lakh. He also announced the setting up of 100 MSME parks in the state.
For 2020-21, the state government projected tax revenue receipts of Rs 70,807 crore against the revised estimate of Rs 65,806 crore in 2019-20.
“Considering the demand, we have kept Rs 500 crore for permanent tea gardens workers in north Bengal to set up permanent houses," he said.
“We have waived tax on agricultural income for next two fiscals, stamp duty reduced to 0.5 per cent only and complete waiver of traffic fines till March 31 for poor vehicle owners,” Mitra said.
Mitra said, “The GDP growth rate in Bengal is 10.4 per cent (double the national rate) while industrial growth rate is 3.1 per cent. Unemployment has also reduced by 40 per cent by creating 9.11 lakh jobs in 2019-2020.”
Addressing a post-budget press conference with Mitra, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “I think we should work as a team to bring back the limping economy of the country on track. If required, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak to Opposition parties on this issue.”
Banerjee referred to the recent comments by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the state of the economy and said the Union government should look after it, instead of being busy in the politics of hatred.
"Whatever RBI is saying is a sensitive matter. The union government should look after the economy, instead of being busy in the politics of hatred. The PM should take everybody along, if needed hold discussions with opposition parties," Banerjee said while urging the union government to refrain from the "politics of vendetta".