The budget session of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly commences Tuesday with presentation of the BJP government’s first annual budget for 2017-18, even as opposition parties are gearing up to corner Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on a host of issues, especially law and order. According to the schedule approved by Speaker Hridaynath Dixit, the session, which will conclude on July 28, will have 14 sittings. The previous Akhilesh Yadav government had in December presented a vote on account for the period ending July 31 this year. Separate days have been earmarked for discussion on the budget and the budgetary provisions for departments before passage. Other than the budget, the House will transact some legislative business as well. The opposition parties, comprising the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress have geared up to raise issues on the law-and-order front to pillory the government.
The BJP and its allies have a massive strength of 325 in the 403-member House, while the opposition has only 74 MLAs. The very first session of Uttar Pradesh Assembly after the BJP stormed to power in March had witnessed ruckus created by the opposition parties which protested with placards and threw papers balls at Governor Ram Naik over law-and-order situation in the state. The Assembly was last in session in May, during which the State GST (Goods and Services Tax) Bill was passed unanimously.
The 2017-18 budget is expected to include measures to mop up additional resources to offload Rs 36,000 crore meant for crop loan waiver to benefit nearly 86 lakh small and marginal farmers, and Rs 34,000 crore required to meet expenses for implementation of the seventh pay panel’s recommendations and some other major commitments made in its election manifesto. This is for the first time that the state government will need such a big amount of additional funds in a financial year.
The state’s total indebtedness is estimated to have increased from Rs 2,25,123.59 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 3,75,049.45 crore as on March 31 this year, according to official data. Additional borrowings might make funding for development projects more difficult as the state government spends about half of its revenue receipts on payment of salaries, pension and debt services. The expenditure on payment of salaries, pension and debt services is estimated to have reached 51.7 per cent on March 31 against estimated 49.1 per cent in 2015-16.
The chief minister has already said the state government will not pass on the burden of loan waiver to the people by imposing new taxes. Instead, it will meet the cost by cutting down wasteful expenditure. Adityanath has said the state government will carry out all its programmes by minimising its expenses and not by imposing any tax burden on people. He said his government’s decision to scrap 15 public holidays in the name of prominent personalities was already projected to save Rs 50,000 crore of state revenue annually.
The chief minister reasoned that state gross domestic product (GDP) was to the tune of Rs 12 lakh crore, which comes to Rs 1 lakh crore per month. By scrapping 15 holidays, the state government would be able save Rs 50,000 crore through maximum utilisation of manpower. He has also said that the state government intends to save funds in the health sector by roping in ambulances provided by the Centre free of cost.
To fund the loan waiver, the state cabinet has decided to float Kisan Rahat Bonds for raising Rs 36,359 crore required for waiving loans of small and marginal farmers who form 92.5 per cent of the total 2.30 lakh farmers in the state. They had suffered because of successive drought and hailstorm. Rs 30,729 crore was required for waiving loans of small and marginal farmers. Besides, there were about 7 lakh other farmers who had taken loans which turned into non-performing assets (NPAs).
In order to bring them back into the mainstream, their outstanding dues of Rs 5,630 crore have also been written off. The state government has also decided to take a loan of Rs 16,580 crore from public sector financial institutions like HUDCO, NABARD, Rural Electrification Corporation and Power Finance Corporation for development projects like laying of roads, upgrading of highways, construction of expressway, rural housing and urban development besides strengthening of power distribution network.