With ₹2.62 lakh crore for 2023-24, Bihar budget focuses on education, jobs

The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Tuesday presented the state budget with the total outlay for the financial year 2023-24 2.62 lakh crore, an increase of approx. 24,000 crore from the budget for the current fiscal with focus on youth and employment, education, health and infrastructure, but refrained from announcing any major new schemes.

Bihar Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Chowdhary before presenting the budget in the state assembly on Tuesday.  (Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)
Bihar Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Chowdhary before presenting the budget in the state assembly on Tuesday. (Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

“We have increased the budget outlay for 2023-24 by more than 10% as compared to 2022-23. Our sound fiscal management has helped us to contain the fiscal deficit within acceptable limits. We have projected a revenue surplus budget,” Finance Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary, who presented the budget, said.

The fiscal deficit for 2023-24 is pegged at 2.98% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), which is within the permissible limit of 3% prescribed under the Fiscal Responsibility Budget Management Act (FRBM).

The highest allocation is for education with the total outlay 40,450 crore, followed by health ( 16,966 crore), road ( 17,487 crore) and social welfare sector ( 12,439 crore).

This is the first budget of Nitish Kumar’s new government after his party JD-U left the BJP in August last year and joined hands with RJD, Congress and other parties.

In his speech, the Finance Minister highlighted the emphasis of the government on employment generation. “We are working to create 10 lakh jobs for the youth. It is already in motion with Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) and Bihar Staff Selection Commission seeking 63,900 posts. We are working to fill 48,762 posts of teachers and there will be huge vacancies in police and other sectors, Choudhary said.

The government’s focus on creating new jobs is also reflected in the salary bill estimated for the next financial year. There is a provision for expenditure in the budget An increase of Rs 1,61,855 crore under establishment and committed expenditure components (salaries, pensions, interest etc.) 24,394 crore as against the current financial estimates of Rs. 1,37,460 crores. Under Annual Plans (for development works), however, 1 lakh crore has been allocated, which is the same as in the current financial year.

Officials said this means the government’s salary bill is rising due to new appointments, interest payments and other committed expenses.

The state government has increased the borrowing limit 49,326 crore for the coming financial year against the borrowing limit of this financial year. 40,756 crores.

Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) S Siddhartha told reporters that it was not a big jump in the borrowing limit.

State government earnings are estimated 49,700 crore from his own taxes in the coming financial year.

demand for special status

Finance Minister Choudhary also raised the demand for special category status for Bihar to overcome its backwardness despite 10.98% economic growth in the last financial year. “We need special status for faster economic progress as Bihar is plagued by some geographical challenges and natural calamities like floods,” he said.

Pointing to the opposition BJP, Chowdhury underlined that the central devolution may increase for the coming financial year Rs 1.02 lakh crore from the Revised Estimates for the current financial year 95,509 crore, but the grant-in-aid expected from the Center for the coming financial year was estimated at Rs. 53,377.92 crore, which “was” 4,623.37 crore less than the estimated estimates for the current financial year.

“Central devolution is a state right. But Bihar is getting less grants-in-aid,” said the finance minister, though he acknowledged how the Center had implemented several state schemes.

main schemes

Though no new schemes were announced in the state budget, Choudhary said the state government was focusing on youth development, women empowerment and infrastructure development.

Among the major schemes launched, the Finance Minister said that the state government had provisioned 2,374 crore for Mukhyamantri Gram Sampark Yojana in 2023-24, 800 crore for self-employment to provide financial assistance to the beneficiaries under Mukhyamantri ST/ST Udhmi Yojana and other schemes, as well as 100 crore for Chief Minister Kanya Vivah Yojana and other schemes.

He said that financial assistance has been mobilized for the empowerment of divorced women in the Muslim minority. from 10,000 25,000.

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