Thakur said that despite the pandemic, the state government is committed to keep the fiscal deficit under five per cent of the estimated GSDP. (Express Photo)
Himachal Pradesh’s revenue receipts for the current financial year are expected to decrease by around Rs 3,000 crore as compared to the initial budget estimates, primarily due to the pandemic, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur informed the state Assembly during the ongoing Budget Session on Tuesday.
Under the Himachal Pradesh Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Rules, Thakur tabled a review of receipts and expenditure for 2020-21, which said that the latest estimates for state’s revenue receipts during the year are Rs 3,000.94 crore less than the budget estimates.
It said that the state’s own tax revenue is expected to decrease by Rs 1,173 crore and the non-tax revenue by Rs 149.4 crore, both due to the adverse effects of the Covid-induced lockdown. The central transfers are expected to decrease by Rs 1,871 crore due to shortfall in share in central taxes devolution and GST compensation while grants under centrally sponsored schemes are expected to increase by around Rs 193 crore due to increase in receipts for PMGSY, Central Road Fund etc.
The revenue expenditure, too, is expected to be less than the budget estimates due to non-release of revised pay scales and pension, the review said, adding that the fiscal deficit is now expected to be 4.21 per cent of the estimated Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).
Thakur said that despite the pandemic, the state government is committed to keep the fiscal deficit under five per cent of the estimated GSDP. He said that the government is trying to reduce “unproductive expenses” and has already “compressed wasteful revenue expenditure in the present financial year”. The CM added that the fiscal policy strategy of the state involves ensuring buoyancy in state’s own tax and non-tax receipts, tapping available resources with the central government for financing various schemes and programmes, recourse to financial resources through externally aided projects and availing increased borrowings allowed by the central government during the pandemic.
House passes supplementary budget of Rs 9,125 cr
The Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed a Bill to issue a further sum of over Rs 9,125 crore out of the Consolidated Fund of the state after CM Jai Ram Thakur presented the supplementary demands for grant for the financial year 2020-21 during the ongoing budget session on Tuesday.
“The supplementary demands for grant aggregate to Rs 9,125.12 crore out of which Rs 8,448.17 crore is under non-plan schemes, Rs 280.84 crore is under the plan schemes and Rs 396.11 crore under the centrally sponsored schemes,” said Thakur.
He further said that the state government took advantage of the Ways and Means Advance facility provided by the Centre so as not to increase its debt burden.
“Due to the Covid lockdown, the sources of income of Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) and HP Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) were adversely affected, due to which the payment of salary/pension liabilities of their employees became difficult. The government ensured payment of committed liabilities of both these corporations and more than Rs 258 crore was provided to HRTC as grant-in-aid during the year,” said Thakur.
He added that additional money was spent for construction of bridges, improvement of accident black spots and road safety, tariff roll back subsidy, welfare of stray cattle, ambulance services, holding local body elections and payment of honorarium to Anganwari workers and helpers.
Major expenditure under plan schemes included subsidy to horticulturists and development of health infrastructure, horticulture, a water transport project and a rail line, and education and public works infrastructure.
Under centrally sponsored schemes, the CM proposed supplementary demands for funding ongoing and new schemes including the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), Central Road Fund, Smart City Mission, loan to credit co-operatives, social security pension and a World Bank-assisted skill development project. The House then passed the Himachal Pradesh Appropriation Bill, 2021 to meet the supplementary demands for grant.
Ruckus over Friday’s incident
Heated exchanges between the ruling BJP and opposition Congress members took place in Assembly on Tuesday as both sides blamed each other for Friday’s incident involving the obstruction of Governor Bandaru Dattatreya as he was leaving the premises after delivering his address.
Shimla Rural MLA Vikramaditya Singh from the Congress and Deputy Speaker Hans Raj nearly came to blows when the former walked up to the latter to engage in a verbal duel. The Congress demanded that the suspension of five of its MLAs be revoked while the BJP asked those suspended to tender an unconditional apology to the Governor. Amid the din, the Congress eventually walked out of the Assembly and the issue remained unresolved.