Himachal assembly passes Rs.30,185-crore budget

Shimla : The Himachal Pradesh assembly on Tuesday passed the general budget for 2015-16 and the related appropriation bill, authorising the government to spend Rs.30,185.77 crore from the consolidated fund.

With Speaker B.B.L. Butail applying the guillotine before the house was adjourned for the day, the bill was moved by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio.

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Cut motions moved by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party were defeated in the house. Not satisfied with the replies relating to health and education, the main opposition party twice staged a walkout from the assembly.

The chief minister had presented the populist but deficit budget with no new taxes on March 18.

In his 18th budget spread over his record six chief ministerial tenures in the state, Virbhadra Singh tried to woo industrial houses.

To ensure time-bound clearances of industrial projects, the chief minister announced grant of permission within 45 days.

For conserving electricity, he announced that the government will give away three LED bulbs at a subsidised rate of Rs.150 each to 21 lakh households in the state. The cost of a bulb would be recovered in 15 installments of Rs.10 per bulb per month.

He 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 Rs.2,500 crore, the chief minister proposed to launch ‘Establishment of Centres of Excellence for Vegetable Nursery Production’ scheme.

In horticulture, 1,000 hectares of additional area will be brought under revamped apple rejuvenation project.

According to budget estimates, the total revenue receipts are estimated at Rs.23,535 crore and the total revenue expenditure is estimated to be Rs.23,488 crore with a revenue surplus of Rs.47 crore.

The expected receipts in the capital account of the government are Rs.3,904 crore apart from Rs.900 crore in public account and provident fund.

The capital expenditure, including loan repayments is estimated to be Rs.4,851 crore. Fiscal deficit for 2015-16 is likely to be Rs.3,285 crore.

Thus, as per the budget estimates, against an expenditure of every Rs.100, the state will have Rs.83.11 as the total receipts, including transfers from the central government, excluding loans.

The gap of Rs.16.89, he said, will be met by borrowings.