The Maha Vikas Aghadi government has, for the moment, put on the back burner the release of a white paper on the state economy, especially after five years of BJP rule. Instead, the government has focused on the budget-making exercise.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who holds the finance and planning portfolios, told FPJ, "I have got a limited time to prepare the state budget for 2020-21 and therefore the white paper is not being pursued now. I have already launched the review of various departments with a focus on mobilization of additional resources for the state. The previous government had presented a revenue deficit budget and my effort is how to make budget revenue surplus by applying multiple options."
He admitted that there are several challenges including revenue deficit, high public debt, and the slowdown in economy, but hinted that the government will find ways to deal with the situation.
The budget session of the state legislature will begin on February 24.
He also said that he is exploring options to raise loans by adhering to the norms fixed by the Central government.
"I am studying all aspects and holding discussions with the departments, officers, retired bureaucrats, and experts. I am optimistic to present a good budget for the state with the active cooperation from the CM Thackeray led team," he noted.
Pawar's statement is crucial as the state's revenue deficit of Rs 20,292.94 crore is expected to surge to Rs 43,000 crore by end of current fiscal, while the fiscal deficit is expected to cross Rs 62,000 crore.
Maharashtra's public debt will be Rs 4.71 lakh crore, plus off-budget borrowings of Rs 2 lakh crore by various government undertakings. As per the 13th and 14th Finance Commission, the state government can raise debt up to 25% of the gross state domestic product (GSDP).
Pawar said the government has launched the crop loan waiver scheme for a loan up to Rs 2 lakh.
''Its implementation will start from March. Some money will be disbursed before March 31 and the second installment in April.
The government will have to make provision for the same in the coming budget too,'' he added.