By:Mohan Lal Verma
The Himachal Pradesh assembly today passed the general budget for 2015-16 and related appropriation bill, authorizing the government to spend Rupees 30,185.77 crore from the consolidated fund.
With Speaker Mr. B.L Butail applying the guillotine before the house the bill was moved by Chief Minister Mr. Virbhadra Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio. Whereas cut motions moved by the opposition BJP were defeated in the house. But not satisfied with the replies relating to health and education, it twice staged a walkout from the assembly.
The chief minister had presented the tax free, populist but deficit budget with no new taxes on March 18, 2015. According to the budget estimates, the total revenue receipts are estimated at Rupees 23,535 crore and the total revenue expenditure is estimated to be Rupees 23,488 crore with a revenue surplus of Rupees 47 crore. The expected receipts in the capital account of the government are Rupees 3,904 crore apart from Rs.900 crore in public account and provident fund. The capital expenditure, including loan repayments is estimated to be Rupees 4,851 crore and fiscal deficit for 2015-16 is likely to be Rupees 3,285 crore.
For conserving electricity, the Chief Minister announced the government would give away three LED bulbs at a subsidized rate of Rupees 150 to 21 lakh households in the state. The cost of a bulb would be recovered in installments of Rupees 10 per bulb per month. He has also proposed to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on these bulbs from 13.75 percent to 5 percent.
To promote off-season vegetable production, which is annually generating a revenue of Rupees 2,500 crore, the Chief Minister has proposed to launch ‘Establishment of Centre’s of excellence for Vegetable Nursery Production’ scheme. In horticulture, 1,000 hectares of additional area will be brought under revamped apple rejuvenation project.