State Budget: Ruling-BJD likely to make last attempt to woo middle class

Bhubaneswar: All eyes are on the State Budget which will be presented by Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera on February 7. Talks are doing rounds on what populist measures the State could take in the budget to woo voters as general polls are only a few months away.

Sources said as the State government has been launching new schemes and there has not been a significant rise in revenue, loan burden on the State exchequer has risen and will continue to increase. Therefore, in coming days the challenge for the State government would be to manage the increasing loan burden.

After the Centre tried to please the middle class by providing tax rebate in the Union Budget, the State government is also expected to toe similar lines. The government is likely to make budgetary provision for KALIA scheme.

“The State government has been focussing on general class and deprived sections of the society. Welfare schemes and social measures are aimed at the middle class and lower middle class,” the Finance Minister said.

In his reaction, senior journalist Dilip Satpathy said, “The budget will focus on those sections of the society which are left out and roll out schemes for them. There might be budgetary provision for more loans as well.”

The Council of ministers has already approved the budget of Rs 1.32 lakh crore this year. As the general polls will be held this year, the Vote on Account (interim budget) of Rs 50 thousand crore will be presented on February 7 for four months from April to July, said sources.

The State government has spent 55.43% of main budget and appropriation budget passed for 2018-19 financial year.

Meanwhile, both Congress and BJP lambasted the State government for the alleged imbalance in the financial system.

“As compared to the income from taxes and funds received from the Centre, in a bid to please people, the State government’s expenditure estimate has gone up. Under these circumstances, launching of any new scheme in the budget will be unconstitutional and unethical,” Congress leader Panchanan Kanungo said.

“When announcement on polls will be done in a month’s time and financial year will end in two months, the State government has managed to spend 55% of the budgeted amount passed for 2018-19 which is worrisome,” State BJP president Basant Panda said.

Sources said the State government’s total loan burden may increase above Rs 91,000 crore by the end of this fiscal.