Chandigarh, Mar 12 (PTI) Identifying health, agriculture and infrastructure as key priority areas, the Haryana government on Friday presented a Rs 1.55 lakh crore-budget for the next fiscal and stayed away from imposing fresh taxes.
From proposing free education for class 9 to 12 students from all categories to setting up Special Education Zones (SEZs) to promoting technology-based learning in government schools, the budget has renewed focus on the state's education sector.
Presenting his second budget, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also announced a new scheme -- Mukhyamantri Antyodya Parivar Utthan Abhiyan -- to help poorest families as well as an increase in old age pension to Rs 2,500 from Rs 2,250 per month, effective from April 1.
Khattar, who also holds the finance department portfolio, said the COVID-19 pandemic presented 'unprecedented challenges and taught us several lessons'.
'It is important for the budget to prioritise specific sectors that are key to leverage a rebound in the economy, particularly in times of crisis. We have identified health, agriculture and infrastructure as key priority areas that we need to focus recovery and resurgence,' he said.
'While focusing on health is of paramount importance in these times of unprecedented public health crisis, agriculture which forms the foundation of our economy and which is the sheet anchor of our self-reliance is critical,' he emphasised.
Without proposing any fresh taxes, the government has presented a budget of Rs 1,55,645 crore for FY 2021-22, an increase of 13 per cent over Rs 1,37,738 crore for the current financial year ending March 31.
The latest outlay comprises 25 per cent of capital expenditure worth Rs 38,718 crore and 75 per cent of revenue expenditure to the tune of Rs 1,16,927 crore.
As a part of the National Education Policy, the government plans to upgrade classroom infrastructure through blended learning models to improve learning outcomes. A sum of Rs 700 crore will be allocated to promote technology-based learning in all government schools that will have digital classrooms, among other facilities.
Also, free education will be provided in government schools for class 9 to 12 students coming from all categories. A sum of Rs 192 crore will be allocated for ensuring quality education and opportunities to them, as per budget provisions.
Special focus will be given to disadvantaged groups by creating SEZs to improve the enrolment from these groups. A Gender Inclusion Fund (GIF) of Rs 114.52 crore will also be created to provide higher financial assistance to girl students in these SEZs.
The Mukhyamantri Antyodya Parivar Utthan Abhiyan will gather data from the Parivar Pehchan Patra (family ID card) and identify the poorest one lakh families in the state.
A package of measures from education, skill development, wage employment, self employment and job creation will be adopted and tailored for each family to ensure their economic upliftment so as to reach a minimum economic threshold of Rs 1.80 lakh per annum, Khattar said.
'Once these one lakh families are successfully uplifted, then the government will identify the next lot of poorest one lakh families and work for their economic upliftment,' he said.
The scheme will be an umbrella mission encompassing all schemes of government to identify the scheme or set of schemes to supplement the upliftment of each identified family.
'Each department of government will prioritise schemes implemented by them for the upliftment of the identified poorest families. By 2025, if we are together in implementing the Abhiyan, I hope to see no family in the state living below the poverty line,' he said.
In the financial year 2021-22, Khattar proposed a target for economic upliftment of two lakh families under the scheme.
'The government's strategy is to comprehensively cover these families at the lowest end of the socio economic ladder, and extend the coverage to the next set of one lakh families, and gradually expand coverage to all the vulnerable sections of the society,' he said.
As per 2021-22 Budget Estimates, the revenue deficit is estimated to be at Rs 29,193 crore (about 3.29 per cent of GSDP) compared to Rs 20,856 crore revenue deficit in the current fiscal.
The state's debt liability is likely to go up to Rs 2,29,976 crore as on March 2022 from Rs 1,99,823 crore as on March 2021, constituting 25.92 per cent of the GSDP.
Asserting that the state government is committed to doubling the farmer's income, Khattar also said that it needs to continue providing assistance to farmers for paving the way for the state's economic growth.
For the next financial year, the government has proposed an outlay of Rs 6,110 crore. Out of that amount, Rs 2,998 crore has been earmarked for agriculture and farmers welfare, Rs 489 crore for horticulture, Rs 1,225 crore for animal husbandry and dairying, Rs 125 crore for fisheries and Rs 1,274 crore for cooperatives.
The total outlay is an increase of nearly 21 per cent compared to Rs 5,052 crore in 2020-21.
'We are indebted to our farmers, whose toil and hard work has made Haryana the food bowl of the country. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy. We are committed to doubling farmer's income and ensuring his/ her wellbeing,' he said.
He also said the budget endeavours to reinforce 'our interventions and schemes for agriculture on increasing farmer's income, crop diversification and water conservation'.
The health sector has been allocated Rs 7,731 crore in 2021-22 as against Rs 6,433 crore in the current fiscal. PTI SUN VSD MKJ RAM