Article 280 has been referred to regarding the Finance Commission, and its expiry at the end of every five years. We know all the modalities. Previously, the other things were being done by the Planning Commission, now it is being done by another extra-Constitutional authority, that is, NITI Aayog. Most of the financial powers have been usurped by the Finance Ministry, and they are allocating the funds to the States at their whims and fancies. I want to ask whether this system should continue.
Updated last 21.00 hrs, 16 March 2015
Saugata Roy today spoke on the Union Budget 2015-16 in the Lok Sabha. He severely criticised the Government for the lack of direction and called the budget as ‘anti-poor’.
“The Budget is full of promises and talks, but it definitely has a direction. The direction is towards the economic inequality. As someone said, they have failed the fiscal test, the test of equity and rising inequality”, said Saugata Roy.
He further criticised the Government for cutting down funds for centrally sponsored schemes. “Their fiscal roadmap is a compression of public spending on welfare measures. Centre will not pay any money on the welfare of the poor people”, he said.
He severely criticised the Government for increase of Indirect Taxes, and tax benefits to the corporate sector.
“Corporate Tax for the big corporate is being reduced by 5% by 2017. Also Wealth Tax has been abolished. GAAR the General Anti-Avoidance Rules, applied to big corporate investing outside has been deferred by two years. So this is a corporate friendly budget”, he observed.
Saugata Roy also highlighted the failure of the Government in bringing back the Black Money slashed abroad.
He spoke about the devolution of funds to West Bengal. West Bengal, despite having a larger population than Bihar has only got 7.34% of the share of the State, while Bihar has got 9.665% and Madhya Pradesh, with much lower population has got 7.54%.
“West Bengal got some revenue deficit grant of Rs 11,000 Crore. Out of this Rs 11,000 Crore, only Rs 8,500 Crore is being paid this year. We have to pay Rs 31,000 Crore to the centre for loans incurred by the previous Left Front Government”, he said.
Abhishek Banerjee came down heavily on the Government for failed promises and factually dismissed the hollow claim of cooperative federalism. He said that this Budget is no longer the ‘Annual Financial Statement’ (AFS) but is now an ‘Absolute Fictitious Statement.
He said, “The Government spoke about ‘Act East’ in the Budget. The phrase he should have used is bluff east”, he said. He reminded the House that Rajnath Singh had promised of a package for Bengal, but in reality nothing has happened.
Abhishek Banerjee said, “I am registering my protest today from this August House. In a year from now, the people of Bengal and the people of Bihar will also register their protest.”
The allotment for social sector schemes has been reduced drastically.
“There has been a Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation 35% decrease in allocation. After adjusting for inflation, expenditure for Rural Development and WCD is in fact less than previous budgets, School education there is a 1.7% decrease. Environment, forests and climate change there is a 11.1% decrease, in water resources there is a 41.9% decrease and in new and renewable energy a 68.3% decrease”, he said.
The Government had promised to bring back the Black Money to the people but yet 98% of the bank accounts under Jan Dhan Yojona remain at zero balances.
Abhishek Banerjee criticised heavily on Government’s road map on women empowerment. The ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme has allocations of only Rs 100 Crores, while the Kanyashree scheme in Bengal has an allocation of nearly Rs 1000 Crore.
He said, “Nirbhaya Fund, increased to Rs 1000 Crore, has remained unspent till now. The Ministry of Women and Child Development had proposed to set up 660 rape crisis centres across the country. The number has been reduced to 36.”
Even on the count of Infrastructure Development. Money has been slashed on Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojona, National Livelihood Mission, Ganga rejuvenation allocation and others.
He concluded by saying, “What I believe is that this Government does not know what they are doing and continuously misleading the people.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee and Finance Minister Dr Amit Mitra held a post-Budget press conference at West Bengal Assembly.
The Chief Minister said, “Today the West Bengal Budget 2015-16 was presented by Dr Amit Mitra. This is a people’s Budget. This is a Budget for Maa, Mati, Manush. West Bengal is the only State facing huge debt-burden. We were asked to wait for 14th Finance Commission Report. But it is silent.”
Highlights of the Chief Minister’s reaction:
- Only Bengal is suffering from the debt made by the previous Government
- We want to tell the Central Government to write off the debt created by the previous Govt
- In spite of our financial constraints, we are giving cycles to 40 lakh students to make them self sufficient and to decrease dropout rates
- Stipend for our Kanyashree girls increased from Rs 500 to Rs 750
- Tax reliefs, made allotments in rural and urban developmental works, for women and children
- More than 5000 people decided to be employed in police at a Cabinet Meeting today
- Why should we be penalized for the sins of the previous Government? We have been suffering for last 3 years
- We have waited for the 14th Finance Commission for 3 years, we have been promised of loan waiver, but 14th Finance Commission is silent
- If other states were in trouble, would not the Center have helped them?
- I’ve spoken with the current Union Finance Minister thrice, I spoke to the previous Prime Minister and the previous Finance Minister, they told us to wait for 14th Finance Commission report
- We believed and waited for the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, but they are still silent
Highlights of the WB Finance Minister’s reactions:
- We are watching for the aggregate amount that Centre will be allotting for WB, inclusive of the grants
- We are watching out for the aggregate amount that Centre will be allotting for WB, inclusive of the grants
- Fiscal Deficit has decreased continuously over the years and Revenue Deficit has also decreased. The 14th Finance Commission has praised our performance.
West Bengal Finance Minister Dr Amit Mitra presented the Bengal Budget 2015 today at the West Bengal Assembly. Making a large leap this Financial Year, Bengal Government is aiming to jump a growth of 10.48% GSDP in 2015-16.
In a press conference after the announcement of this years budget the Chief Minister proudly said: “This is a people’s budget. This was a Budget for Maa, Mati, Manush.”
Here are the highlights of Dr Amit Mitra’s speech:
- Maa Mati Manush has confirmed their faith on our leader Mamata Banerjee time and again, Bengal economy is moving in a new direction
- Bengal’s Gross Value Added Growth is 10.48%, while for the Nation it is 7.5%
- Capital Expenditure growth: In 2010-11 it grew at a negative 26%, in 2012-12 positive 24%, 2012-13, positive 63% and in 2013-14 positive 52%
- Planned Expenditure has been a record double in 2 years
- Bengal has a huge debt, in 2013-14, Rs 28,000 crore deducted
- In the last 3 years more than 1 lakh crore has been deducted from the treasury
- Food and storage capacity has been raised 9 times in last 3 years from 40,000 MT
- 95 Kisan Bazars have been planned, 84 are already running
- To protect Food Security, 91,000 false ration cards have been cancelled
- The number of digital ration cards have touched 7.8 crore numbers. This is an unprecedented success
- West Bengal secured the top position in the 100 Days Work Scheme
- The State Govt set up 25 lakh toilets in the last 3 years in households and schools
- In Nijo Bhumi Nijo Griho scheme, 2 lakh 30 thousand pattas were distributed
- For the economically challenged section, we have been able to increase the housing by 3 times
- Under ‘Gitanjali’ scheme and ‘Amar Thikana Abason’ scheme 93,852 people and expenditure increased by 7.5 times
- In Jal Bharo Jal Dharo scheme, 1,18,000 ponds were dug, target was 50,000
- The supply of Drinking Water has increased by 252% in the last 3 years. The expenditure was Rs 470 crore (2010-11). We have started 615 projects for the rural water projects, which is double from 2010-11
- We set up 95 Fair Price Medicine Shops from which 1 Cr 30 lakh people benefited worth Rs 364 crore.
- 418 new primary schools and 1438 HS schools have been set up
- 1618 Madhyamik schools upgraded to HS schools
- 319 Junior schools upgraded to Madhyamik schools
- 85,000 new classrooms set up in schools of West Bengal
- There were 13 Universities in West Bengal since 1947, in 3 years we have set up another 13
- There were 32 new colleges since 1947, we set up 40 new colleges in 3 years, since 2011, 43 new ITIs set up besides the 83 present, new 92 ITIs are underway
- Since Independence only 62 ITIs are there. In the last 3 years we have set up 34 new ITIs and 32 new ITIs are coming
- Among the minority community Rs 1392 Crore given as scholarships to 65 lakh needy students, which is 8 times than the previous Government
- 22 lakh girl child have been registered in Kanyashree scheme and 20 lakh girl child already benefited
- West Bengal has been in the top position in Skill Development in 2013 and 2014
- Online registration for obtaining caste certificates started of which 2.74 lakh caste certificates of Tapashili caste are already distributed
- The number of cycles given to tribal students is 10 times more than the previous Government
- 45 lakh Unorganised Sector workers brought under the ambit of social security benefits
- Rs 359 Cr has been given to 12 lakh workers in Unorganised Sector as social security benefits, which is 40 times more than the amount spent in 2001-2011.
- Before 2011, there was 385 km rural roads, during 2013-14, the length increased by 4 times to 2631 km, 1270 kms converted to two lanes and 2672 kms broadened
- The expenditure on roads and bridges have increased by 3 times
- The Asian Highway 2 connecting Nepal border with Bangladesh border worth Rs 600 crores and Asian Highway 48 connecting Bhutan border with Bangladesh border worth Rs 900 crore have already commenced
- Birth-death certificates, trade license etc are to be given through online portal in municipal areas.
- Rs 3420 crore has been given for 22 new townships. Investment proposal worth Rs 76000 crore received
- The new district, Alipurduar created, Uttar Kanya, the North Bengal Secretariat set up
- Uttar Banga Business Summit received proposal of Rs 2200 crore for investments and another Rs 1700 crore in MSME
- Special emphasis is given in the 74 backward blocks of the 5 districts of western region. Out of the 260 project, work for 152 schemes have already been completed
- For irrigation, a new project ‘Krishi Bandhu’ worth Rs 500 crore set up.
- In Tourism, Planned Expenditure increased 20 times from 2010-11 to Rs 223 crore in 2014-15
- New international carriers have started services like Dragon Air, Silk Air
- Air Traffic at Bagdogra and Asansol have increased
- 874 new buses are now on the roads boosting transport
- Eco Park, International Convention Center set up at Rajarhat
- Sales Tax has been reduced for Aviation Turbine Fuel
- For Kolkata airports sales tax over fuel reduced from 30% to 15%. The measures have helped to increase
- 8 IT parks are on the verge of competition, another 7 are coming up. 2 electronic manufacturing hub have been sanctioned and one hardware park will be set up within 2015
- In case of ‘big industries’ the investment under implementation or already implemented stands at Rs 84,211 crore from the stage F0 to F6, as i have explained earlier in the Assembly
- In addition to this investment proposals worth Rs 55855 crore has been received earlier, and in the Bengal Global Business Summit proposal of Rs 2,43,000 crore have veen received, thus making a total of Rs 3,00,000 crore.
- The bank lending to MSME has grown to a record high of Rs 40,713 crore, which is about 3 times.
- In 2012-13 and 2013-14, this growth rate is the highest in India
- The number of MSME clusters have increased by 3 times from 54 to 161
- 531075 numbers of weavers identity card have been provided
– Food & Supplies – Rs 202 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 175.2 crore in 2014-15
– Agriculture Rs 1500 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 1157 crore in 2014-15
– Food Processing – Rs 138 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 120 crore in 2014-15
– Water Supply – Rs 450 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 356.85 crore in 2014-15
– Fisheries – Rs 218.1 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 196 crore in 2014-15
– Irrigation – Rs 2041 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 1872.49 crore in 2014-15
– Water Resources – Rs 528 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 466.52 crore in 2014-15
– Forest – Rs 271 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 225 crore in 2014-15
– Health – Rs 2580 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 2211 crore in 2014-15
– School Education – Rs 8055 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 6844 crore in 2014-15
– Women Dev – Rs 863.98 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 720.76 crore in 2014-15
– Labour – Rs 250 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 220 crore in 2014-15
– Sports – Rs 180 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 142 crore in 2014-15
– Youth Dev – Rs 160 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 130 crore in 2014-15
– Home – Rs 273 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 245 crore in 2014-15
– Culture – Rs 200 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 165 crore in 2014-15
– Urban Dev – Rs 1895 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 1585 crore in 2014-15
– Transport – Rs 450 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 400 crore in 2014-15
– Child Dev – Rs 2809 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 2420 crore in 2014-15
– Electricity – Rs 1295 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 1174 crore in 2014-15
– Municipal Affairs – Rs 2464 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 2251 crore in 2014-15
– Minority Dev – Rs 2033 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 1737 crore in 2014-15
– Backward Class Welfare – Rs 483 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 377 crore in 2014-15
– North Bengal Dev – Rs 450 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 375 crore in 2014-15
– Sundarbans Dev – Rs 370 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 300 crore in 2014-15
– MSME – Rs 618 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 536 crore in 2014-15
– Industry and Business – Rs 653.5 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 544 crore in 2014-15
- WB received CSI Award for governance and ranked 1st in the category ‘Excellence in e-Governance’
- VAT registration threshold has been increase from 5 lakhs to 10 lakhs, 20000 small business to be benefited
- A host of steps to simplify VAT registration, appeal, refund etc taken up
- Input Tax Credit to be extended to the manufacturers
- Threshold of additional stamp duty for registering properties raised to Rs 40 lakh instead of Rs 30 lakh
- Entertainment Tax relief increased to Rs 100 for music show, magic shows
- 20 lakh hectres of new land to be brought under irrigation
- The scholarship for Kanyashree raised to Rs 750 from Rs 500
- The pensions for Samajik Mukti Card holders have been increased in various steps
- Transport Workers are from now on entitled to avail Samajik Mukti Cards
- 10 years of Tax Relief will be given to providers of Green Electricity
- In the last year, we could create 16.6 lakh employment, in the coming year expecting 17.5 lakh employment