Apparently keeping the focus locked on assembly elections next year, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government tabled its 2012-13 budget on Tuesday, largely with no fresh taxes or impositions.
Bristling with many populist sops, the budget also pruned value added tax (VAT) on petrol, besides making substantial allocations to the state's pathetic power sector and to improve its dilapidated roads.
The exemption limit for professional tax was raised from Rs 1.20 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh per annum, which would benefit lakhs of the salaried class in the private sector. Dearness Allowance of state employees has been ramped up to be at par with central government staff, with a 7% hike. Following up on the CM's Beti Bachao drive, the budget has provisioned a pension scheme for parents who have only daughters, and no sons.
VAT has been pruned to 5% from the current 13% on a variety of items including the originally Gujarati savoury, Khakhra and on Khas-Khas, besides on all kinds of CFL and LED bulbs and tubelights.
Adult diapers and sanitary napkins, aluminium circles and sheets, have also become cheaper with the VAT rate cut.
Stamp duties, mainly on mortgage of documents for loans, have been reduced, bringing down the cost of documentation on educational loans and other mortgages for industrial purposes.
Presenting the budget, state finance minister Raghavji indicated a fiscal deficit of Rs 10017, which put the overall proposed expenditure at Rs 80030.98 crores. The budget has its thrust on agriculture and allied sectors with nearly 40 % of the allocation being earmarked for those.
"Madhya Pradesh has come out from the category of BIMARU states and joined the progressive states", Raghavji claimed, adding that the average gross state domestic Product (GSDP) at constant prices is to be 9.7 % for the twelfth five year plan, higher than the national average.
With the government facing the heat from various quarters, including from the farmers and people in the rural areas, for the grim power scenario and protracted blackouts, the finance minister sought to make a substantial allocation for the energy sector amounting to Rs 7710 crore - 49% more than of last year. A separate allocation of Rs 384 crores has been made for enhancing power generation capacity while Rs 27 crore has been earmarked for promotion of non-conventional energy.
With the condition of roads in the state threatening to be a major poll issue in next year's polls, the budget has upped the provision for roads by a massive 53%, bringing the allocation to Rs 4694 crores.
On the law and order front-another critical area for the state government with the big spike in crime-the FM announced recruitments to 6255 new posts in the police during 2012-13, and to set up a state industrial security force to protect state industrial units, semi government institutions and banks. Traffic management and data centres would be established at Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur & Ujjain.
The health sector gets Rs 3,596 crore. The FM announced five new medical colleges in the PPP mode at Ratlam, Satna, Seoni, Vidisha and Dewas where these colleges would be attached to the respective district hospitals.
Stressing on the education of girl child, the budget has proposed a transport allowance for girl students.
A higher education fund would also be established to provide financial assistance to students belonging to economically weaker sections for higher education.