Resorting to populism and giving a fresh impetus to employment generation, the West Bengal government on Monday announced the setting up of 100 business parks for small and medium enterprises in the state in the next three years and proposed free electricity to those with quarterly consumption of up to 75 units in its budget for 2020-21.
Finance Minister Amit Mitra presented the budget at an outlay of Rs 2.5 lakh crore with limited deficit of Rs 8 crore.
This is the last full budget of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in the state ahead of next year's assembly polls in the state.
With an eye on the 2021 assembly polls and the upcoming election in 107 civic bodies in the state, the budget by the TMC government gave sops primarily to the social sector and reached out to the backward sections of the state, where BJP has made deep inroads in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The budget made an allocation of Rs 5,150 crore for 2020-21 primarily targetting the social sectors, and also for creating employment in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
In his budget speech, state finance minister Amit Mitra claimed that while the country is going down on various economic indices, West Bengal is surging forward in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) growth and on other yardsticks.
He said that the government has made allocations for opening up of new universities, welfare for the aged belonging to SC and ST categories, workers in the unorganised sector, MSME sector, assistance to the unemployed youth, tea garden workers, besides for providing free electricity to the poor and assistance for getting government services.
The minister said a total allocation of Rs 5,150 crore has been made for the next financial year towards these.
Mr Mitra said in the current financial year, the state has been able to generate 9.11 lakh employment opportunities.
For 2020-21 the state government has projected tax revenue receipts of Rs 70,807 crore against the revised estimate of Rs 65,806 crore in 2019-20.
The government in the budget has also proposed dispute settlement schemes with respect to VAT, CST, entry tax, settlement of disputes under Motor Vehicles Act, waiver of interest on outstanding stamp duty and reduction of stamp duty on amalgamation of adjacent plots.
Later addressing a post budget press conference along with Mr Mitra, West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee hailed it as a "pro people budget" prepared keeping in mind all sections of the people.
Ms Banerjee said the central government has denied the state government Rs 1 lakh crore in various segments.
She urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the union government to work together with opposition parties and refrain from the "politics of vendetta" to revive the economy.
Ms Banerjee referred to the recent comments by RBI on the state of the economy and said the union government should look after it, instead of being busy in the politics of hatred.
"Whatever RBI is saying is a sensitive matter. The union government should look after the economy, instead of being busy in the politics of hatred. The prime minister should take everybody along, if needed hold discussions with opposition parties," Ms Banerjee said while urging the union government to refrain from the "politics of vendetta".
Everybody should work together to improve the economic condition and if needed Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak to the opposition parties, she said.