The Chief Minister and the Finance Minister, Dr Raman Singh, has tabled the general budget on the floor of the Assembly on Friday. A whopping Rs 65,013 crore budget expenditure is 18 per cent more than that of last year’s revised expenditure. Dr Singh expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for reposing confidence on states and realizing the idea of cooperative federalism in both letter and spirit. The additional resources on account of the 14th Finance Commission devolution and receipt from coal block auction has boosted the State’s own resources, which Dr Singh proposed to utilize productively in further engendering the wealth of the state. Dr. Raman Singh’s budget seamlessly aligns with the Union Budget presented a fortnight ago and has youth, infrastructure development and industrial progress in its prime focus. Chhattisgarh Government has emphasized on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ and Skilled India campaign to take Chhattisgarh on the road to progress. Dr Singh also announced a series of trade and business-friendly tax incentives on VAT, Central Sales Tax and Entry Tax to make domestic trade more competitive. Bold tax reforms have been proposed to enhance ease of doing business in Chhattisgarh.

At the same time, Dr Singh has reaffirmed his commitment to the poor, the farmers, and the deprived sections of society by introducing many pro-poor schemes. In a major relief to micro, small and medium enterprises sector, entry tax exemption has been extended to investments in plant and machinery up to Rs 5 crore.

Singh, who is also the State’s Finance Minister, said that for the first time separate ‘Youth Budget’ has been presented. Chhattisgarh is the first state in the country to present separate youth budget, in which Skill Development has been given top priority. About Rs 6,151 crore has been allocated for the development of youth which is equal to 16 per cent of the State Plan Outlay. 17 new ITIs and 3 new Polytechnic colleges will be opened this fiscal. Fees will be reduced by 50 per cent in ITIs, he added.

About Rs 11,000 crore has been allotted for infrastructure development which is 39 per cent higher than that of the previous fiscal year. Rs 5,183 crore has been allotted for developing road network, including state highways and link roads to all the villages. 2,000 kilometre roads will be developed under the Public-Private Partnership. Rs 10,000 crore will be invested on roads during the next three years. Rs 700 crore has been allocated for construction of rural roads. Rail Corridor of 300-km will be built at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore. Swami Vivekananda Airport at Raipur will be developed on a par with international standards of airports. New Industrial policy has been developed to encourage investment in Chhattisgarh. Global Standard IIIT will be started at Naya Raipur this year which will promote Information Technology education in the State. High-Tech bus stands will be opened in 17 district headquarters.

Rs 5,000 crore has been allocated for Food and Nutrition Security of the poor. An amount of Rs 10,700 crore has been allocated for Agriculture, which is 26 per cent higher than that of the last fiscal year. An amount of Rs 2,700 crore has been allocated for Irrigation purposes. 16 lakh pensioners will be benefitted from the Destitute Pension Scheme. The allocation has been hiked by 20 per cent this year. Chhattisgarh will be the first state to provide nutritious diet to TB patients along with drugs. Mukhyamantri Baal Madhumaya Suraksha Yojana will be started for children afflicted with Diabetes soon. Singh said Rs 100 crore has been allocated for Sulabh toilets and individual toilets in slum areas of urban centres.

About Rs 15 crore will be spent on hostels for working women at Raipur, Bilaspur and Durg. 80 girls’ hostels will be built for Higher Education and Technical Education students. 36 per cent budget has been set aside for Tribal Sub-Plan while the population of Tribals is 32 per cent. Eleven ITIs and one Polytechnic will be started in Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’ dominated regions. Hundred high schools, Higher Secondary Schools buildings and 50 girls’ hostels will be constructed.

The small and medium traders who do business up to Rs 1 crore per annum are freed from the burden of three monthly detail returns. VAT has been reduced to 4 per cent on re-rolled production of iron-steel industries. Fourteen per cent VAT and Entry Tax has been removed on bio-toilets to give fillip to Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The VAT and Entry Tax have been removed on the Affordable Housing Scheme Pre-fabricated, Pre-Cast, Monolithic Concrete construction. VAT has been reduced from 5 to 4 per cent on aviation turbine fuel. Minor Irrigation Scheme gets Rs 30 crore.

Rs 158 crore has been allocated under Interest-Free Short-Term loans. Rs 1,000 subsidy per quintal on seed production of cereals and oil crops will be given to the farmers. An amount of Rs 10 crore has been allocated for Organic Farming Mission. Bio-control Research Centre will be started at Raipur. Rs 15 crore allocated for 180 new Krishi Seva Kendras. New co-operative sugar factory to be constructed will help sugarcane farmers at Pandaria. Rs 2,758 crore has been set aside for Irrigation Schemes. About Rs 1,230 crore allocated for free power supply to agriculture pumps.