There's everything for everyone, at least on paper, as Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday presented in the Goa legislative Assembly a Rs 26,855 crore budget which he claims is revenue surplus.
In a speech which stretched over ninety minutes, Sawant has refrained from introducing any additional taxes and also did not raise the rates of any existing levies, although the scope to do so has got limited with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax regime administered primarily by the Centre.
Sawant, who often quotes the 'double engine sarkar' terminology to denote the BJP governments both at the Centre and in the State, said that Goa got Rs 750 crore as Central financial assistance in the current year and estimated it to increase to Rs 1,506 crore in 2024-25.
At the very outset of his speech, Sawant paid obeisance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his 'inspiring leadership' for aiding the State's progress but also showered praise and gave credit for it to past Chief Ministers of Goa and political leaders.
He said, leaders like Dayanand Bandodkar, Dr Jack Sequeira, Sashikala Kakodkar, Dr Wilfred de Souza and Manohar Parrikar (all since deceased) besides Pratapsing Rane, Ravi Naik and Shripad Naik, have a large contribution to the State's progress till date.
While the budget he presented has allocations for a plethora of government's budget heads, the Rs 1,720 crore revenue surplus Financial Statement does not have any measure to mobilise resources through taxes and Sawant has left the State levies untouched, perhaps owing to the compulsions of an election year.
CAPEX at Rs 6,855 cr
Sawant said of the total outlay of Rs 26,855 crore as much as Rs 20,000 crore will be revenue expenditure and Rs 6,855 crore will be spent on the capital account.
He also said that the State's fiscal profile was robust with a GDP growth rate clocking 13.21 per cent while the per-capita income has also shown impressive increases.
Although no new taxes have been imposed, Sawant however has kept the option of mobilising additional resources open. He said, charges and fees of several public services in various departments, some of which are still at the level of Rs 20, will be hiked gradually during the year.
He also said, duties and fees for various land revenue code transactions and also in the TCP department will be hiked.
Some more areas to generate additional revenue cited by Sawant include introducing a regulation to renew several leave and licence agreements on properties leased by the government to private parties.
Rs 40 crore for each constituency
Although not new, the scheme introduced by Sawant through his budget last year to allocate funds for development work in each constituency at the behest of the respective MLA, got a robust allocation of Rs 1,600 crore.
Sawant said Rs 40 crore per constituency will be earmarked which can be utilised by the MLA for public development projects in their respective areas.
Sawant said the iconic Captain of Ports terminal building currently being built where the former Mumbai Steamer jetty used to be will be completed by the end of the current financial year. The project needs an additional Rs 20 crore he said.
Sawant also said that another iconic project in the capital city -- Administrative Tower at Patto -- will be completed in the next two years.
State borrowings, an often citied figure by the Opposition to criticise the government's management of the State's finances, continues to grow alarmingly though Sawant said the State borrowed much below the threshold limit fixed by law.
To a question at the post-budget speech press conference he addressed, Sawant said his government borrowed about Rs 1,300 crore which is much below the permissible limit imposed by the fiscal management law.
He said, the State's aggregate net borrowings have now touched Rs 24,300-odd crores.