State budget is confusing and aimless


Commenting on the West Bengal state budget presented friday by the Finance minister Amit Mitra, the former state Finance Minister Dr. Asim Dasgupta said the 2015-16 state budget is aimless and confusing. The announcement of the state budget before the Union budget will create administrative conflict. The budget is full of many information which are baseless, said Dr. Dasgupta.


Dr. Dasgupta listed several “points of confusion” in the budget:


Firstly, the 14th Finance Commission has submitted its recommendations. The Centre’s decision will be available in Saturday’s Union Budget. This would affect receipts and expenditure of the state government. Then why was the state budget hurriedly placed a day before the Union Budget? I’m certain the state has to change its allocation after the Union Budget. Does the state intend to place another budget?


Secondly, there is a shortfall in revenue collection in the current fiscal. In the last year of Left rule, tax collection was 25%. In 2011-12, it dipped to 18%. Due to introduction of entry tax, revenue collection increased to 31% in 2012-13. We had forewarned the state government about the entry tax. As feared, the entry tax got stuck in Calcutta high court. President’s assent is needed to introduce entry tax. The state introduced it without it. So, the next rate of revenue collection fell sharply to 9% in 2013-14. In the current fiscal, the target was 16%. Revised estimate was 12%. The actual may be even lower.


Thirdly, the collection of VAT has dipped. This can happen when industrial production is inadequate. The state budget claimed about Rs 84,000 crore in total investment — implemented  both been coupled? Despite repeated queries, the state government has not given us the break-ups of how many projects have been implemented and how many are in the process of being implemented.


Fourthly, in agriculture, the state has claimed increase in foodgrain production. Why then has the price of rice doubled To Rs 40/kg in last four years?


Fifthly, the government has claimed creation of more than 16 lakh employment. Why doesn’t the government give a break-up?


Referring to chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s oft-repeated allegation regarding the huge public debt she inherited from the Left regime, Dr. Dasgupta said most of the debt was because of small savings loans the Centre had offered at high rates of interest. Dr. Dasgupta said, “If the Centre charged a high interest on loans that they had given to the state government from deposits in post offices (known as small savings loans), how can we be blamed? Moreover, Trinamul had been part of the Union government led by the Congress and the BJP. She will have to take responsibility for the big debt that accumulated during the Left rule.” Dasgupta also said that the debt burden on the State has almost doubled in the past four years during the Trinamool Congress regime. The burden, which in 2010-11 under the Left Front government had stood at ₹1.92 lakh crore, has now increased to ₹2.75 lakh crore.


February 28, 2015