Vikash Sharma

Odisha Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari on Friday will present the 2023-24 annual budget for the state. Earlier the council of ministers had approved the annual budget of Rs 2.3 lakh crore for 2023-24. Expectations will be certainly high from the budget as it will be the last full-fledged budget in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s fifth term.

It is expected that the Odisha Government might focus on infrastructure and social security this time. Apart from this, there could be extra emphasis on areas like agriculture, education, health, rural development, sports, Mission Shakti and others. There could be special provisions and allocations for the Srimandir Parikrama Project, Lingaraj project and other temple development projects as well.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties targeted the Odisha government ahead of the presentation of the budget.

Opposition Chief Whip, Mohan Majhi said, “As 2024 elections are on the cards, we suspect the Odisha government to present a rosy picture. For cheap popularity and vote bank, the state government will try to come up with some schemes.”

Congress MLA, Santosh Saluja said, “It is the last budget of the Odisha government to hoodwink people as there will be announcements but none of it will be implemented on the ground.”

Planning & Convergence Minister Rajendra Dholakia said, “The budget will certainly meet everybody’s expectations and there will be new schemes for people.”

Meanwhile, the Economic Survey report to some extent has exposed the reality of development in Odisha. As per the Economic Survey report, the state’s economic growth is likely to drop to 7.82 percent in 2022-23. It was around 11 percent in 2021-22 during the Covid phase. Odisha’s per capita income is also not satisfactory as per the Economic Survey report. Odisha's present per capita income (2022-23 AE) is Rs 150,676 at current prices against the national average of Rs 170,620 (current prices).

As per economists, Odisha government is likely to present a progressive budget to boost the economy and there is every possibility that new schemes may be announced for the poor, women and farmers as well. “It will be a progressive budget and there could be focus on employment generation, new industries and backward classes among others,” said economist, Rajib Sahu.

(Reported by Harihar Chand and Kapilendra Pradhan)