(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2012
TRIPURA BUDGET 2012-2013
Pro-People, Pro-Development Endeavour Despite Severe Constraints
ON February 27, Tripura finance minister Badal Choudhury presented the state budget for the financial year 2012-13 in the state assembly. This budget of Rs 8119.47 crore under the shadow of adverse recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission that resulted in a serious financial crunch for the state and of the declining GDP growth rate in the country successfully focused on all-round development of the state and welfare of the people. The budget depicted the state’s achievement in financial discipline and developmental programmes while showing the road ahead amid the adversities. While bringing down the budget deficit compared to the previous fiscal year (FY), the budget maintained the state’s revenue surplus status, thus imposing no new tax on the people.
It is worth mentioning that this budget was introduced under the shadow of adverse recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission which deprived the state of an amount not less than Rs 10,500 crore, thus creating severe problems for the state.
The budget pegged the total receipts at Rs 7970.11 crore, which includes Rs 893.41 crore of state’s own tax revenue and Rs 178.34 crore of non tax revenue, without imposing any new tax. The state has achieved a robust growth rate of 25.16 per cent in collection of own tax revenue in the first three quarters of the current fiscal. The highest growth rate --- of 35.4 per cent --- has been in VAT collection. The state has also been successful in bringing down the gross borrowing from Rs 727 crore targeted in budget 2011-12 to Rs 653 crore in the revised budget.
The total expenditure projected in the budget 2012-13 is Rs 8119.47 crore, which is a hike of 15.1 per cent from the revised budget of Rs 7054.72 crore. The budget has been successful in bringing down the deficit from Rs 246.58 crore in 2011-12 to only Rs 149.33 crore. The state plan’s size has increased 22 per cent from the revised budget and is pegged at Rs 2547.54 crore.
The budget shows how the state has been able to maintain excellent fiscal discipline. This achievement was due to sound fiscal management, austerity measures and improvement in revenue collection. The state has been able to achieve all the FRBM Act targets during 2010-11 and is confident of achieving the same during the ongoing and next FY too. The fiscal deficit in 2010-11 was 1.53 per cent of the GSDP, much below the upper limit of 3 per cent set by the FRBM Act. The projected fiscal deficit in 2012-13 is also below the mandated limit of 3 per cent. The state continues to be revenue surplus in 2012-13, with the budget posting a surplus of Rs 1268.95 crore. The outstanding fiscal liability of the state has also improved in the last few years. This is reflected in the fact that the state’s outstanding fiscal liability compared to GSDP has come down from 42.39 per cent in 2006-07 to 39.58 per cent in 2010-11. In the last 14 years the state did not have to resort to overdraft due to sound financial management.
As a testimony of its commitment to development and empowerment of the women, the budget has increased the plan allocation in gender budget Rs 304.64 crore in the revised budget to Rs 337.45 crore in the BE 2012-13.
In this budget, the Left Front government has proposed to increase the age of retirement from service from 58 to 60 years and the decision will be effective from April 1, 2012. At the same time the upper limit of entry age into government services has been increased from 37 to 40 years with a relaxation of 5 years for the SC/ST candidates. The state has declined to implement the new contributory pension scheme 2004 of the central government and decided to continue with the existing assured pension scheme. The government has also announced that need based recruitment in government services will be continued. The existing practice of regularisation of DRW, contingent and fixed pay workers will also be continued. It is because of these policies and because of the state’s refusal to follow the central diktat of downsizing the state’s economy that the 13th Finance Commission made severe recommendations which caused financial constraints for the state.
Apart from these measures, the budget has announced a paternity leave of one week to state government employees at the time of delivery of the first two children. The budget has also announced for provision of Rs 5 crore for construction of ‘Pensioners Abash’ at Agartala.
Despite the severe financial constraints, the Left Front government of Tripura has, in this budget too, announced a number of pro-people measures for all-round development of the state, with special emphasis on education, health, tribal and minority welfare, social security to the economically and socially vulnerable sections and the physically challenged people. The budget focuses mainly on agriculture, horticulture, foodgrain production, health, connectivity and social welfare as priority sectors. Some of the important announcements are as below.Setting up of English Medium schools in each block in a phased manner.
1) Setting up of a Regional College of Nursing at Hapania, Agartala.
2) Coverage of all the schools and Anganwari centres with drinking water and sanitation facilities by 2012-13.
3) Gainful use of the Forest Rights Act regarding land to be allotted to tribal forest dwellers for agriculture, horticulture etc.
4) Sanction of Rs 237 lakh to Tripura State Cooperative Bank for improving its capital adequacy ratio, so as to make it eligible to get banking license from the RBI.
5) Introduction of ‘Begum Rokeya Merit Award’ comprising a gold medal and cash prize of Rs 5000 for toppers among the minority community girls in secondary and higher secondary exams.
6) Construction of a girls’ hostel for minority community school and college students at Udaypur.
7) Introduction of a new pension scheme for unmarried women of the age of 45 years and above, belonging to BPL families, with a monthly pension of Rs 400.
8) Increase in number of persons under the National Old Age Pension Scheme to 152,550 from 136,592 at present.
9) Continuation of the scheme of incentive for girl children.
10) Extension of the scope of pension scheme for 100 per cent blind, now available only for the BPL category, to the APL persons also, with a pension of Rs 1000 per month.
11) Disability pension scheme for APL persons with 80 per cent or more disability; these persons if not 100 per cent blind will have a monthly pension of Rs 400.
12) Connecting all the subdivisional
headquarters by 2-lane roads to the
13) Allotment of homestead land to homeless and landless families on priority basis.
In his budget speech the finance minister highlighted some of the remarkable success achieved by the state.
1) As per Census 2011, with a rate of 87.75 per cent, the state ranks 4th in the whole country in terms of literacy.
2) The president of
3) The Tripura Police has been honoured with the President’s Colour for its excellent success in combating insurgency.
4) The state produced 7.12 lakh tonnes of foodgrain in 2010-11, up from 6.48 lakh tonnes in the preceding year, and was awarded the Krishi Karman Award carrying a cash prize of Rs 2 crore, for being the best food producing state among Category III states in the country.
While presenting the budget, the finance minister asked the union government for the following:
1) Enactment of a comprehensive legislation for monitoring and control of the non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) for protection of the investors.
2) Suitable amendment to the constitution to provide reservation to the OBCs and minorities in educational institutions and government services.
3) Implementation of recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra commission and Sachar committee for religious minorities.
4) Increasing the number of mandays under the MGNREGA from 100 to 200 days per household per year, along with an increase in the wage rate in the state to Rs 150 per day.
5) Launch of a new scheme on the lines of the MGNREGA for urban wage employment at national level, like the Tripura Urban Employment Programme that was launched here.
6) Completion of gauge conversion of railway line from Lumding to Agartala by 2013, as assured by the railway authorities.
7) Completion of the new railway line from Agartala to Udaypur by 2012 and Udaypur-Sabroom line by March 2013, as assured by the railway authorities.
After presenting the budget, Badal Choudhury had had a brief interaction with the reporters when he said he was happy to be able to present this budget in spite of all the difficulties created by the unfavourable recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission. The centre, he said, has been trying to teach the Left Front government a lesson by drying up its financial resources through the 13th Finance Commission as the state did not agree to implement the prescriptions of downsizing, ban on recruitment, introduction of new pension policy and other neo-liberal policies of the centre. However, the state government has refused to be cowed down and will continue to recruit new employees according to its needs. The Left Front government of Tripura has not made any such promise in the budget as it will not be able to fulfil, the minister stressed.