Rajasthan budget: Ahead of polls, Vasundhara Raje announces farm loan waiver of up to Rs 50,000, sops for students and women

It its last budget before the 2018 polls, the Rajasthan government decided to follow Karnataka and Punjab and announce a farm loan waiver.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Monday announced a one-time loan waiver of up to Rs 50,000 for small and marginal farmers, at a cost of Rs 8,000 crore to the exchequer.

Presenting the state budget in the Assembly, Raje also announced setting up a farmer loan relief commission.

File image of Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje. PTI

File image of Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje. PTI

Opposition creates uproar

As Raje, who also holds finance portfolio, announced the loan waiver, Opposition Congress members led by the Leader of Opposition Rameshwar Dudi created uproar in the House. They said it was a betrayal of farmers and that all the loans taken should be waived.

Last year, five big states, including Rajasthan, announced farm loan waivers, widening the combined fiscal deficit of the states by ₹1,07,700 crore or 0.65 percent of GDP for this financial year, India Ratings said in a report in December.

The report estimated that the combined fiscal deficit of the States in FY18 at 3 percent of GDP or ₹ 4.99 trillion. This is higher than the budgeted figure but considerably lower than FY17. The report was based on the analysis of 29 state budgets, the impact of the farm debt waivers announced outside the budgets and implementation of GST from July 2017, Business Line reported.

Sops for elderly, anganwadi workers

Twenty-eight primary health centres, free travel for people above 80 years of age and one attendee on half fare in the state roadways buses, were also announced.

The chief minister also declared hike in honorarium to Anganwadi workers, underpass from Ramniwas garden to Delhi road for a better traffic management, and bio-gas plants in cow shelters.

Meanwhile, the government's flagship Annapurna Rasoi scheme, on the lines of Tamil Nadu's Amma Canteens, to provide low priced meals to the poor, also found a mention. Raje promised that all 500 Annapurna kitchens would be functional by 2018. She also said that every district collector's office would house such kitchens.

Raje govt and the press

After drawing much flak on a press gag order last year, the Raje government announced subsidised home loans for journalists for up to Rs 25 lakh. The government also announced camera insurance schemes for photo and video journalists.

This comes amid the uproar over a controversial bill, the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017, which seeks to shield both serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants in the BJP-ruled state from being investigated for on-duty action without the government's approval and bar the media from reporting on allegations against them without its prior sanction.

Education

The Rajasthan government announced that it will recruit 54,000 Grade III teachers, 9,000 Grade II teachers across state government schools. Raje also said that the enrollment rate in state government schools have increased and 12 lakh more students have registered for education. The government announced an increase in the grants given to Aadarsh Schools. Some benefits were also extended to state madrasas, as the chief minister said that 500 madrasas will benefit from Aadarsh Madrasa Yojna at a cost of Rs 25 crore to the exchequer. The government also announced a new agriculture university to be opened in Kota. The state will also start the first Skills University in the country to train over 2 lakh youths in various skills for better job opportunities; eight new ITI's will also be opened to this effect. The government also announced free WiFi facilities in all state universities.

Welfare of women

The Raje government also announced several schemes and sops for women. The chief minister announced that a women's wing will be opened in 28 ITI institutes in state to improve opportunities for women. Moreover, the government also announced that all women workers will be entitled to a total of two years of child care leave. Class 12 girl students who score more than 85 percent in board exams will be given free scooters by the state government.

Sports

The Raje government announced Rs 25 lakh to cricketer Kamlesh Nagarkoti for his exceptional showing in the Under-19 Cricket World Cup. The government also announced a 'youth icon' scheme to promote participation in sports. The government also announced several infra projects in the state. "In the last 4 years, we have completed the construction and repair of 49,878 kilometres of roads," Raje said.

 

 

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Feb 12, 2018 15:41 PM

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