MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government today said one of the key reasons for the over Rs 15,000 crore revenue deficit in the state budget for 2018-19 is the Rs 34,000-crore farm loan waiver announced last year.
The budget for 2018-19, presented by Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar in the Assembly, has an estimated revenue deficit of Rs 15,374 crore.
Speaking to reporters after presenting the budget, he said, "The farm loan waiver announcement has put some pressure on finances of the state.
"It is one of the main reasons behind the (estimated) revenue deficit rising to (more than) Rs 15,000 crore.
"We are also preparing for (implementing) the Seventh Pay Commission, which is estimated to put an additional burden of Rs 21,000 crore on the treasury.
" He said the committee looking into the implementation of the Seventh Pay commission recommendations for government employees is likely to submit its report in four months.
"The K P Bakshi committee report is expected to be out in the next four months.
Once it is out, we will discuss it and then go for its implementation," said the minister.
The panel is headed by K P Bakshi, a retired IAS officer.
"All other financial indicators like revenue receipts, growth in income, debt and capacity to borrow more for infrastructure projects are in favour of the government," said Mungantiwar, who presented his fourth budget.
"We are way better off than many states in the country," he said.
The BJP minister said the budget has allocated Rs 300 crore for the giant Shivaji memorial proposed to be built in the Arabian sea.
"We have allocated Rs 300 crore for the Shivaji memorial.
On the other hand, new taxpayers are being added, which will eventually increase the revenue collection.
"There is a good investment for metros in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur but the opposition seems to ignore this," he said.
Meanwhile, the opposition slammed the budget as "hollow", while the ruling BJP said it was development- oriented.
Interestingly, no leader or minister from the Shiv Sena, which is part of the BJP-led government in the state, publicly commented on the budget.
Shiv Sena leader Deepak Kesarkar is the Minister of State for Finance.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hailed the budget, saying, "It provides major support to Dalits, divyangs and adivasis.
So many provisions have been made for these communities.
" There is sufficient allocation of funds for rural development, roads and the social sector.
The healthcare sector will benefit from the budget, which also focuses on water conservation, he said.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and Congress MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil termed the budget as "hollow" and said it lacks a framework to take the state further.
Congress leaders staged a protest on the steps of Vidhan Bhavan holding a pumpkin and a clean slate, indicating the state has got nothing from the budget.
"It was just a jugglery of numbers and nothing else," said Vikhe Patil.
Jayant Patil, an ex-finance minister and NCP leader, said, "This budget indicates frustration of the government.
They have miserably failed in improving the state's financial health.
"There is no clear indication how the government is going to increase its revenue to reduce the deficit."