Interim budget 2019 disappointing: Odisha CM Naveen

Bhubaneswar: While BJP leaders are going gaga over the interim budget 2019, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today termed it as ‘disappointing’ and rated it 2.5 on a scale of 10. In his reaction on the interim budget, Naveen, however, lauded the tax benefits planned for the middle and lower income groups.

While speaking to reporters, Patnaik also welcomed the direct benefit transfer proposed for small and marginal farmers on the lines of the state government’s recently-launched pro-farmer initiative KALIA scheme. However, it would have benefited the farmers more if the quantum of assistance was equal or more than the KALIA scheme i.e Rs 10,000 per year, he said.

“I am deeply disappointed with the National Social Security Scheme including the old age pension and other pensions which have not been revised at all. At present, Odisha is covering 48 lakh beneficiaries with Rs 500 monthly allowance while the Centre is giving Rs 200 per month to 20 lakh beneficiaries only,” said Patnaik.

The Chief Minister further stated that no step has been taken to restore the scholarship funds for the ST and SC students while the allocation for SC and ST welfare both in infrastructure and education in the interim budget has been disappointing.

The allocation for MGNREGS is lower than the allocation in the revised estimate and this will adversely affect timely wage payments. The budget allocation on rural connectivity, rural housing and drinking water has been reduced or has remained at previous level which is also not encouraging.

The 14th Finance Commission had recommended total transfer of Rs 1.84 lakh crores during the award period (2015-20). However, based on the actual receipts during 2015-18, revised estimates for 2018-19 and budget estimates for 2019-20, the State is going to receive only Rs 1.57 lakh crore. Thus, the State will be hit with a shortfall of Rs 26,342 crores, Patnaik added.