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Meghalaya CM presents deficit budget, voice confidence to improve revenue collection

Despite an increase of Rs 32 crore deficit from the previous fiscal year 2020-21, the Chief Minister, who also holds the Finance portfolio, did not levy any fresh taxes.

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Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Wednesday presented a fiscal deficit budget of Rs 1,570 crore for 2021-22, which is around 4.07 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product.

Despite an increase of Rs 32 crore deficit from the previous fiscal year 2020-21, the Chief Minister, who also holds the Finance portfolio, did not levy any fresh taxes.

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Sangma, who also holds the Finance portfolio, informed that the 15th Finance Commission has recommended a total amount of Rs 39,012 crore for the State.

Presenting the budget, the Chief Minister informed that the state total receipt for the current fiscal, excluding borrowings, is estimated to be Rs. 15, 262 crore.

However, the estimated total expenditure, excluding repayment of loans, is Rs 16, 832 crore thus leaving a deficit of Rs. 1570 crore.

The Chief Minister, however, voiced confidence that the revenue collection of the State would improve significantly in the next financial year, adding that for 2021-22, revenue collection has been estimated at Rs 2,579 crore and Rs 694 crore under tax and non-tax respectively.

Together with the Centre’s devolution the state is expected to mobilize Rs 3300 crore during this fiscal, he said

Sangma lamented that due to the pandemic the tax transfers from the Centre have “reduced drastically.” For the year 2020-21, the budget estimates were Rs. 5, 999 crore, while the revised estimates were Rs. 4, 207 crore, a shortfall of Rs. 1792 crore.

“The projections for the devolution of taxes for 21-021-22 are, however, encouraging,” Sangma said.

He said the 15th Finance Commission has recommended a total of 39, 012 crore for the state covering the five year award period 2021-26, he said.

“This devolution has increased from 0.645 percent in the 14th Finance Commission to 0.767 percent in the 15th Finance Commission award,” Sangma informed.

“For 2021-22, the share of central taxes is estimated at Rs 5, 105 crore and the revenue gap grant is at Rs. 1279 crore,” the Chief Minister informed.

The own tax revenue of the state for the current fiscal is expected to touch Rs. 2213 crore, which is a 11 percent jump over the previous financial year. The excise revenue for this fiscal is expected to be at an all time high of Rs. 350 crore, a jump of 27 percent over the previous fiscal.

The prospects for non tax revenue collection remains encouraging for this fiscal and the State government is optimistic that from auction of coal the state would generate Rs. 350 crore. There was a reduction of 29 percent in non tax revenue collection in the previous financial year.

Sangma, meanwhile, has prioritized the health, education and agriculture and allied sector in his budget allocation. Out of the total budget, Sangma has earmarked Rs. 820 crore for the health sector, which is a 13 percent increase over 2020-21.

Under this budget allocation provision of the newly farmed state health policy would be implemented, new health infrastructure would be built, and programmes and schemes to develop the health of children and mothers would be undertaken.

For the education sector, Sangma has earmarked Rs. 980 crore in which new schools and colleges would be established and existing schools and college infrastructure would be upgraded or repaired.

“Ensuring universal access to elementary and secondary education is one of the key priorities of my government,” Sangma said and announced the allocation of Rs 980 crore for the education sector in 2021-22, out of which Rs 453 crore is from State resources.

“A healthy and educated population forms the basis for development of any society. Human capital development has been a strong focus of this government. Accordingly the government, is launching an ‘Early Childhood Education Mission’ to focus on the early development of every child in the age group of 0-8 years,” he said.

Moreover, every child in the State will be provided access to high quality education and care that includes language, cognitive, socio-personel, emotional, creative and aesthetic appreciation,” the Chief Minister said and announced the allocation of Rs 20 crore for the implementation of the ‘Early Childhood Development Mission’ in 2021-22.

The agriculture and allied sector has been allocated Rs. 559 crore by Sangma. Under this budget allocation, different mission mode projects such as Mushroom, Jackfruit, Lakadong turmeric and others would be promoted.

Moreover, agriculture related infrastructure would be built and fish, piggery farming and the dairy sectors would also be promoted through various mission mode projects.

For development of the road and bridges in the State, Sangma allocated Rs 1080 crore to the PWD department. Rs. 802 crore has been set aside for the PHE department, Overall Sangma has allocated Rs. 2491 crore for the development of the infrastructure sector in the state.

“This government has a clear vision and programme for development. When the MDA Government came to power in March 2018, we made a promise to transform the State and to deal with several of the challenges facing the State including the inadequate infrastructure, poor governance and the several legacy issues,” he said.

The Chief Minister said after three of taking over the reins, the State is witnessing “visible changes” because of interventions made in important sectors of roads, water supply, health and education infrastructure, programme for farmers welfare and support to entrepreneurs.

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