The West Bengal government on Wednesday waived road tax on passenger transport vehicles and offered a rebate on stamp duty as it tabled a Rs 3.08 – lakh-crore Budget in the assembly for the financial year 2021-2022.
Presenting the Budget, state industry minister Partha Chatterjee said the government has decided to extend the one-time exemption of motor vehicle tax for the period starting July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021.
The government has also proposed to reduce stamp duty by two percent for registration of deeds, while circle rate was slashed by ten percent.
Chatterjee presented the budget as finance minister Amit Mitra is unwell.
The minister in his budget speech said the state had fully provided for debt servicing in its budget. He claimed that the debt to GSDP ratio for West Bengal at 35.54 percent, is far lower than the Centres debt to GDP ratio.
However, the budget also pushed up the states annual budgeted borrowing when compared to last year’s actuals by over 23 percent to a record Rs 1,15,819 crore, according to the financial statement given at the end of the budget.
Devdutta Basu, well-known financial analyst while welcoming the stamp duty reduction which he described as a boon in the current depressed times, cautioned that the “states debt is going up reduction in debt should be a priority.”
The expenditure on budgeted debt servicing and loan repayments over last year’s actuals also went up for 2021-22 by approximately 20 percent according to the fianancial statement, which according to financial analysts represents an attempt to retire older high cost debt by the state government.
The government’s revenue expenditure has also gone up frm a little over Rs 1.8 lakh crore to over Rs 2.13 lakh crore, representing spending on new schemes.
In February, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had placed the vote-on-account in the House, during which 26 schemes and projects were announced.
Talking about the student credit card scheme, launched on June 30, the minister said that an interest rate of four percent will be charged, while the rest will be borne by the government as subvention. Also, no collateral will be required for availing the scheme, and the loan amount will be fully insured and state guaranteed.
He added that the state government will soon launch West Bengal basic income scheme christened Lakshmir Bhandar’ (Lakshmis Gift) to support a woman member of every household. Under the scheme, Rs 1,000 will doled out to women of SC/ST households and Rs 500 to those belonging to the general category.
The government will transfer the money directly to their bank accounts, he said.
Chatterjee noted that farmers have started receiving benefits of the Krishak Bandhu scheme.
He said that the government’s ‘Duare Ration’ (Ration at doorsteps) scheme under which food grains are delivered to households — will be scaled up in days to come.
The industry minister, during his speech, also proposed allocation for major departments for the ongoing financial year, with health and school education getting a substantial part of the pie.
The state government also increased outlays in many sectors. The departments that saw a sharp spike in allocation were Health, Home and Hill Affairs, Disaster Management, Education and Women and Child development in the wake of several targeted schemes announced by the state.
Home and Hill department allocation was Rs 11,939 crore in 2021-22 as compared to Rs 1299 crore in last year which is nine times jump. Disaster management allocation jumped to Rs 2,105 crore compared to mere Rs 215 crore in 2020-21, representing a 10-fold jump.
The Bengal government also increased the health allocation by over 400 percent to Rs 16368 crore to tackle Covid-19 pandemic effectively as compared to Rs 4608 crore allocation done in the previous budget.
Allocation in the food and supplies department expanded by around 50 percent to Rs 12293 crore.
West Bengals business chambers and industrialists welcomed the budget. The budgetary impetus provided to industrial sectors would definitely help in navigating the pandemic hardships successfully, CII vice chairman (Bengal ) Subhasendu Chatterjee said.
While Bharat Chamber president Ramesh Kumar Saraogi welcomed continuity maintained by the State Government in undertaking the socio-economic development programmes.