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Despite the inflating non-plan expenditure, Uttarakhand Finance Minister Prakash Pant will present the state budget for the 2019-20 fiscal on February 11 with a focus on agriculture and allied sectors with a challenge to keep revenue and fiscal deficits under the prescribed limits.
"We are trying our best to maintain a balance in the budget. We are committed to the welfare of our farmers and will make provisions in the budget to provide them with extra income," said Pant, who will present his second straight budget in the state Assembly here.
Pant said he would make provisions so that farmers start getting Rs 6,000 as per the goal set by the Central government in the Interim Budget on February 1. "We are committed to double the income of our farmers," said Pant.
The Finance Minister said he would maintain a balance in the budget so that revenue and fiscal deficits remain under the prescribed limits of the FRBM Act. "Fiscal prudence is our goal. Let's see what can be done best for the farmers," he said.
Top officials in the finance department acknowledged that fiscal prudence can go haywire in the wake of burgeoning non-plan expenditure, especially after the government accepted the key demand of the striking state government employees of hiking housing and various other allowances, which would put an extra burden of Rs 254 crore on the state exchequer.
Earlier this month, nearly 2.5 lakh government employees went on a day's mass leave on their 10-point charter of demands. Buckling under pressure, the government accepted some of their key demands.
The non-plan expenditure is estimated to be around 75-80 per cent of the state budget's total expenditure.
But Pant remained positive despite the growing salaries, allowances and pensions, especially after the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission.
"We will present a revenue surplus budget," he said. Pant managed to present a revenue surplus budget for 2018-19 also.
Non-tax revenue is another challenge for Pant. For the past two decades, successive state governments had tried their best to increase non-tax revenue.
For 2019-20, non-tax revenue may see a slight increase as compared to the budgetary estimate of Rs 12,405.15 crore in the current fiscal.
Experts say the government should also focus on the capital expenditure in the budget. "We will do everything to keep a significant amount for the capital expenditure," said Pant.