State budget likely after Union budget

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government is likely to present its annual state budget for 2016-17 fiscal after the presentation of Union budget.

Sources said the state government would be able to present its annual budget only after taking into consideration Central allocation for the state in the next budget. This had become necessary since the state has to provide resources for some of the Centrally sponsored schemes, allocations for which were either slashed or terminated altogether by the Centre last year, they added.

Meanwhile, Speaker Niranjan Pujari has called an all-party meeting on February 1 to discuss the annual budget.

As per sources, the state government has incurred a loan of Rs 3500 crore from the open market last year to make up for the shortfall in its exchequer. Once the state government knows the exact Central assistance after presentation of the Union budget, it will be in a position to determine its annual budget.

While there is speculation that the government is mulling presentation of a vote-on-account prior to the full-fledged budget, Finance minister Pradip Kumar Amat has ruled out such a possibility.

“The state government had to bear an extra financial burden from its exchequer last year for running some Central schemes after the Centre stopped financial assistance. It would not be proper to talk about the matter in this context. But the fact remains that the state government has started preparatory work on it,” Amat said.

Justifying the decision of the state government to present the annual budget after the passing of the Union budget, former Finance minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadai said the state government will get a clear picture of the exact Central assistance only after the Union budget is passed in the Parliament.

“Keeping the nature of the Union budget in mind, it will be nothing wrong for the state government to present a vote-on-account initially; it can present the full-fledged budget later,” he pointed out.

In his reaction, state BJP president Basant Panda said his party will support the state government if it agrees to our suggestions for the annual budget for the welfare of the people at the all-party meeting.

“But if our suggestions are not accepted, it will be considered an insult to the all-party meeting,” he added.

Senior Congress leader and chief whip of the Opposition Tara Prasad Bahinipati confirmed that his party would attend the all-party meeting.

“We will deliberate on the annual budget prepared by the state government and give our suggestions for the overall development of the state,” he pointed out.