In an apparent attempt to woo voters before the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Friday tabled the `23,613-crore tax-free, populist budget for 2014-15.
The Chief Minister announced a hike of 10 per cent in dearness allowance from July 2013. The additional annual benefit to government employees and pensioners would be to the tune of `580 crore. “Employees are the back-bone of the government. Their welfare is of utmost concern to us. I announced the filling up of more than four thousand posts in different departments in my last budget speech. I am happy to announce that we have filled more posts than expected,” the Virbhadra said.
The social security pension has been enhanced from `450 to `500 per month for widows, senior citizens and the disabled. Pension for those above 80 years of age has been raised from `800 to `1,000 per month. Grant for inter-caste marriages has been raised from `25,000 to `50,000. Similarly, assistance under the Mukhya Mantri Kanyadaan Yojana has been increased from `21,000 to `25,000. The housing subsidy has been raised too, he said.
As per the advance estimates for 2013-14, the GDP of Himachal Pradesh would grow from `73,710 crore in 2012-13 to `82,585 crore in 2013-14. The per capita income is likely to increase from `83,899 in 2012-13 to `92,300 in 2013-14.
“A public services delivery helpline, through which cases of corruption can be reported will be set up for the people of the state,” the CM said. He added that coffee cultivation would be initiated in Kangra, Mandi, Una and Bilaspur.