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Odisha budget leaning on debt and central assistance?

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government is more likely to rely on central assistance and debts to meet its allocation for all the budgetary provisions this year. This is what experts have to say, a day after presentation of the annual State budget for 2018-19 financial year.

According to experts, while the per capita distribution of loan burden will touch Rs 25,000 by the end of the current fiscal, a break-up of budget data shows that the State will be able to generate Rs 33, 000 crore as revenue from self implemented taxes.

Similarly, with non-tax revenue of Rs 12,500 crore, the State government will manage to generate revenue of Rs 45,500 crore all by itself.

In terms of central grant, the state will get Rs 30,559 crore and in total, the Central assistance is likely to touch Rs 70,000 which is about half of the state budget presented for this fiscal.

Presently, with the State’s loan burden hovering around Rs 87,000 crore, experts believe that it could touch Rs 1.06 lakh crore by the end of this current fiscal.

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After the presentation of the budget, the Opposition parties have come down heavily on the Odisha government over the State’s sky rocketing loan burden.

“The state government is trying to paint a rosy picture of the budget but it does not have enough finance to implement its schemes. The government is trying to burden the people of the State with loans instead of making sincere attempts to reduce the burden, which might boomerang in coming days,” said senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra.

BJP leader Prithiviraj Harichandan said the State government is completely dependent on the central assistance but is not trying to enhance its self generating revenue sources.

However, State Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari has said that the budget is balanced and aimed at the development of all sections of society.

On the other hand, coming to expenditure, the State has allocated 50.87 percent of budgetary provision towards implementation of schemes and 41.2 per cent for administrative expenditure.

Similarly, the State government has increased budgetary allocation for disaster management to 4.7 per cent of the budget i.e. Rs 4,600 crore.

However, financial experts have shown displeasure over inadequate allocation of funds for employment generation in the State.

As per the Economic Survey Report 2018-19, the unemployment rate of the State is at 7.1 per cent which is higher than the national average of 6.1. The State government has also announced to create 30 lakh new jobs in six sectors of the State. Amid this scenario, the budgetary allocation of a meagre Rs 192 crore for the biggest employment generating MSME sector has come as a concern for many.

It may be noted that the size of the current budget has increased by 15.8 per cent as compared to last year making experts believe that the State government may also depend on more borrowings from the open market this fiscal.

“We had expected something different in the budget especially focusing on employment sector but the State government has shown unimpressive emphasis on MSME, start-ups, skill development sectors which is very disappointing,” said financial expert Rajiv Sahu.

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