Budget 2015: Eastern promises mark beginning of new era

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Updated: March 1, 2015 10:03:54 AM

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has announced special financial assistance for poll-bound Bihar and West Bengal...

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has announced special financial assistance for poll-bound Bihar and West Bengal while stressing mainstreaming of the northeastern states.

The assistance to Bihar and West Bengal is on the same lines as provided to Andhra Pradesh. However, the contours of the assistance package were not elaborated on.

On February 5, the Centre announced a R850-crore development package and ad hoc support for Andhra Pradesh as also tax sops to help the state attract investments in the industrial sector.

Following the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendations, which increased states’ share in central taxes by 10 percentage points to 42%, West Bengal and Bihar will be among the biggest beneficiaries in absolute terms, Jaitley said. West Bengal’s share will increase by 56% to R38,461 crore while Bihar’s share will go up by 37% to R50,747 crore in FY16.

However, the share of Bihar in central taxes will decline 1.2 percentage points to 9.6% while Bengal’s share will increase marginally to 7.32%.
Also, Jaitley reiterated the Centre’s commitment to comply with the legal commitments made to Andhra Pradesh and Telengana at the time of the reorganisation.

The finance minister gave special emphasis on bringing the northeast to the mainstream. The Budget proposed the setting up of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Assam, an Institutes of Science and Education Research in Nagaland Centre for Film Production, Animation and Gaming in Arunachal Pradesh.

Jaitley didn’t disappoint other states looking to bag central institutes. He announced that the government will set up AIIMS in J&K, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. He provided for setting up of an IIT in Karnataka and upgrading Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad to a full-fledged IIT.

The Budget also provides resources for development and restoration work at nine heritage sites, including the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai, Leh Palace in Ladakh and Varanasi Temple town.

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