Budget Provides For Farm Loan Waiver, Power Bill Rebate

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Raipur, Feb 8 (PTI) Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel Friday presented the first budget of his government in the Legislative Assembly, providing for farm loan waiver and rebate in electricity bills among other things.

The Congress government had announced a farm loan waiver immediately after coming to power in December 2018. The motto of the Rs 90,910 crore budget was “Bahujan

Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay” (for the happiness and benefit of largest number of people), Baghel said in his speech.

The financial plan for 2019-20 has an allocation of Rs 21,597 crore, 1.5 times higher than previous year, for agriculture and allied sectors. A provision of Rs 5,000 crore has been made for waiver of agricultural loans, Baghel said.

Short-term agricultural loans of Rs 4,000 crore distributed by public sector banks along with those distributed by rural and co-operative banks will also be waived, he said.

A supplementary budget for the last fiscal presented in January had provided for waiver of loans of Rs 6,000 crore. The total waiver of nearly Rs 10,000 crore will benefit 20 lakh farmers in the state, Baghel said Friday.

He also announced Rs 50 crore for establishment of five food-parks, aimed at increasing farmers’ income and generate employment, particularly in rural areas.

In a major relief for domestic power consumers, Baghel announced that power bills will be cut to half with effect from March 1, 2019. The benefit of this half rebate will be extended to all consumers in the domestic sector for up to 400 units.

A provision of Rs 400 crore has been made for extending this concession. A provision of Rs 4,000 crore has been made under the Mukhya Mantri Khadyanna Suraksha Yojna for distribution of 35 kg of rice per ration card to the poor families, Baghel said.

It is estimated that 85 million tons of paddy will be procured in Kharif season of 2019, and farmers will be paid MSP of Rs 2,500 per quintal of rice, he said.

For this, a provision of Rs 5,000 crore has been made, the chief minister announced. The budget also hiked the allotment under the MLA Local Area Development Fund from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore per year.

Rs 45.84 crore have been provided for `Response Allowance’ to the police personnel, he said.

Better health schemes will be implemented for providing “Universal Health Care to All”, he said.

Additional provision of Rs 15 crore has been made for hygiene in civil hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres. A provision of 6.10 crore has been made for construction of five community health centres, 10 primary health centres and 25 sub-health centres. A 100-bed district hospital will come up in Gariaband, Baghel said.

The budget does not impose new taxes, he said. The state’s “gross financial loss” is estimated to be Rs 10,881 crore, which is 2.99 percent of the state’s gross domestic product and within the prescribed limit, Baghel said.

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