Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: With an increase in revenue collection, Odisha government is expected to present a bigger state budget and the size is expected to increase by least 10 percent this year. Amid such a scenario, all eyes are on the state's dependency on market borrowings which are also expected to increase.

The pre-budget consultations chaired by the Odisha Finance minister reflected such contours of the upcoming full-fledged budget. However, all eyes will be on Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari who will be presenting the budget on June 28.

During the pre-budget consultations, several financial experts stressed on ‘qualitative expenditure’ and suggested a number of other proposals to maintain a balance between revenue and expenditure.

Former Finance minister, Panchanan Kanungo proposed that the State government should urge the Centre for a special package project instead of special category status.

“Keeping in view the fact that cyclones and other natural calamities strike Odisha every two to three years, Odisha government should demand a special package project in which trees should be planted along the entire 400 km coastline (up to 10 km width) and coast canal. With the demand of special package, other States which are also affected by natural disasters will not have any problem,” said Kanungo.

“Discussions were held to increase the budget size with focus on health, education and other infrastructure, additional funds and increase disbursement under rural housing scheme from Rs 1.30 to Rs 3 lakh,” said former finance minister Prafulla Ghadei.

Ghadei further stated that proposals were also made for qualitative expenditure as it is not possible to impose new taxes. Moreover, emphasis will be laid on tourism development and collection of penalty from mining leaseholders, Ghadei added.

Earlier in February, the then finance minister Sashi Bhusan Behera had presented an interim budget of Rs 1.326 lakh crore for the full year 2019-20. Highest of Rs 4,461 crore was allocated for the recently-launched KALIA scheme, followed by Rs 2935 crore for rural water supply – BASUDHA Scheme and Rs 2120 crore for Madhubabu Pension Yojana.

Odisha government on the other hand claimed that there has been a rise in revenue from mines, excise and GST and hence there would be no problem in implementation of the schemes announced.

“We have received several suggestions and will consider and incorporate them in the upcoming budget,” said Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari.