KOLKATA: Competing with the Union budget, the West Bengal government also aimed at a populist budget ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Finance minister Amit Mitra announced salary hikes of `2,000 for contractual workers and `500 for Asha and Anganwadi workers and also promised an annual payment of `3 lakh for one lakh contractual workers in police and health departments. Also, `1 lakh financial assistance has been promised for 50,000 unemployed youth and `5,000 and `2,000 annual grants have been announced for farmers with one acre and less than an acre of land respectively.
Despite presenting a `9 crore deficit budget, Mitra said the budget proposed to provide `2.38 lakh crore for the financial year 2020, which is 10.7% higher than the last year’s proposal. While the economist finance minister projected state GDP to grow to `11.6 lakh crore by March 2019, he said that Bengal’s tax collection grew to `57,700 crore in the financial year 2018-19.
Mitra also said that the state’s revenue deficit shrunk to 0.96% in the financial year 2018-19 from 3.75% in the financial year 2011-12 when Trinamool Congress took over power in the state. Also, the fiscal deficit fell to 2.82% in the financial year 2018-19 against 4.24% in the financial year 2011-12, Mitra claimed. The finance minister claimed that over 9.08 lakh jobs were created in the state and 8.82 lakh people were benefited by Khadya Sathi scheme.