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Shashidhar . S.Kapur

The budget 2019 of  Madhya Pradesh was hardly that – it was merely a  manager’s statement of accounts -cum -Munshi’s  Bahi  Khaata. While it was  better than the recent state  budgets – as also the latest Union budget- in that it   was relatively rigourous in numbers yet it fell short in lacking a vision.

  It can be termed as a “ complementary budget” ( rather than supplementary  ) since the major items in interim budget presented before LS polls have been left out to a great extent in the  main budget. Granted that post  GST the conventional  budget has become defunct as there is little scope for taxation by the state governments and there are limits to public borrowing. All that remains is juggling of  priorities and allocations. An innovative- improvising approach could’ve been  adopted ; instead the easier way out of  enhancing  tax on petrol outside the budget , improving the ease of  liquor business and  attempting greater revenue from  the real estate was adopted. While bringing  industry back onto the focus is welcome  but one will have to wait for concrete signs before congratulating.

  On the whole, highlights included mention of  national , global  economic  scenario-  which was a first ; a two thirds  raise in allocation for agriculture; enhanced focus on tourism – though  improving the hotels as key was odd-which would primarily aid travel than tourism ; branding  of  traditional produce is a welcome step; interesting scheme for revival of  rivers-  must complement the river linking projects; enhanced funding  for urban development and Panchayats (  forthcoming  local bodies elections may be a factor) besides  Education ; health  Budget is  increased sustainably by   32   per cent –  to complement  the primary health push of the  centre.

   Agriculture gets 54 thousand crores including 8000 cr. for loan waiver and    emphasis on processing , horticulture ;Budget for Social Justice Department is . 2891 crore, an increase of 43 percent on account of pension and increase in provision of CM Kanya Vivah Nikaah Yojana.;Construction of satellite towns, industrial area and dry port on Bhopal-Indore expressway; Rs. 33,467 crore for Tribal Sub-Schemes ; Rs. 22,793 crore for Scheduled Cast Sub-Schemes-are  some of the key allocations.

Besides the  absence of a vision dark  aspects  include  the overall math not  adding  up. There is no mention of the aimed  growth rate.( Perhaps the fudged  growth rates  of  20%  and thereabouts  in agriculture  and  double digit overall  by Shivraj  Govt.  would  be difficult to match with credible data). No allocation to  several announcements ;   no matching  resources for the  central schemes- in health and housing for all ( perhaps to scuttle them); Reduction in real  estate  duty  with the hope for  greater overall receipts may not materialize ; odd choices in   having  international Football and swimming  academies- MP is not exactly a  leader in these; Tax Revenue estimates are 23.69 percent higher as compared to  2018-19 and Capital expenditure for the year 2019-20 is estimated to be Rs. 35463.90 crore as against Rs. 29256.78 crore for the year 2018-19, an increase of 21.22- both  look inflated two most  dangerous steps are  resource monetization- Land  pooling  pilot underway and  borrowings – esp.  from open   market (borrowings of  40  thousand  crores in   the  first six months)- unless  carefully handled this could mean mortgaging the future  of this  state. Surprisingly there was no mention of  data  governance.

  All in all ,the stamp of  Congress  template is all pervasive in the budget albeit in a new form. Farmers , Tribals ,SC /ST  youth  have  got a massive hike, Education and Industry ,Infrastructure ,health and  housing , women have increased and   there is huge borrowing .This is a double edged sword  where delivery would  hold the key.

  One really hopes that while the best practices of  previous regimes are    continued the worst procedures are dropped .In this context it would’ve been a good idea to have a separate Krishi Budget  ( The  Shivraj   govt. had  Krishi Cabinet ) – it was one of the promises in the national manifesto ; the multiple  supplementary budgets could  be avoided.

 In the current global scenario , the relative power of  national governments is on the  wane .They in turn try and  dominate the regional  governments and so on till the local bodies. Such a situation  means  that, MP can only grow  in absolute  terms if  and only if  it has its own economic model. Bereft of  which ,MP  will perpetually remain a laggard  even if  technically it sheds  the BIMARU tag