Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday presented a revenue deficit budget of Rs 41,440 crore for the next fiscal with focus on strengthening the agriculture and horticulture sectors by promising to double the income of farmers by 2022.The Chief Minister, who also holds the Finance portfolio, announced launching of 28 schemes with emphasis on education, women's empowerment, job creation and tourism.The total budget expenditure estimated for 2018-19 is Rs 41,440 crore, of which the estimated expenditure on salaries is Rs 11,263 crore and pensions Rs 5,893 crore.The estimated interest payments would be Rs 4,260 crore and loan payments are expected to be Rs 3,184 crore, apart from Rs 448 crore on other loans and Rs 2,741 crore on maintenance, said Thakur in his maiden budget speech in Hindi which lasted over two-and-half hours.As per the budget estimates, the total revenue receipts are estimated at Rs 30,400 crore and the total revenue expenditure is estimated to be Rs 33,568 crore with a revenue deficit of Rs 3,168 crore.
The expected receipts in capital account of the government are Rs 6,540 crore, apart from Rs 1,225 crore in public account, including provident fund.The capital expenditure, including loan repayments, is estimated to be Rs 7,872 crore. The fiscal deficit for 2018-19 is likely to be Rs 7,821 crore.The Chief Minister also announced a book donation scheme for government schools."The students spend a lot of money on purchase of new text books. At the same time the students once pass a class throw the books. Now I propose that in all government schools, the day immediately after the completion of the exams will be marked as Book Donation Day," he said.That day students will hand over the books they don't need, helping the students reduce their expense on purchase of books.
Reducing the load of school bags, Thakur said the government would declare one day every month as bag-free day in all schools and that will be fully devoted to co-curricular activities.To redress grievances at doorsteps, the Chief Minister announced that all ministers would regularly organise 'Jan Manch', or public forums, in remote areas of every district to solve the problems of the people.He announced levy of a cess of Re 1 per bottle of liquor to meet the operational expenditure of an ambulance service. This will fetch around Rs 8 crore per annum.In the hill state, which is also facing the impact of climate change, a Climate Change Adaptation Demonstration Project in two districts under the Climate Change Adaptation programme would be launched.A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment will also be carried out, covering 7,000 villages in 1,200 panchayats in the Beas river basin in Kullu, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra districts.