AGARTALA, Feb 19 � Tripura Finance Minister Badal Chowdhury on Wednesday presented a Rs 12404.77 crore tax-free budget for 2014-15 leaving a deficit of Rs 158.66 crore.
The deficit would be reduced by compressing non-plan expenditure, stepping up resource mobilisation, better tax collection and adopting austerity measures. This year�s estimated budget is more than that of last year�s budget.
While tabling the budget, Chowdhury said the Centre has resorted to stopping new recruitment, abolition of vacant posts and reduction of the employment opportunities in the government sector.
�The policy of the Left Front Government is quite different. The State Government has been striving its best to expand the employment opportunities in the government sector. The government has filled up few thousand posts despite its meagre resources�, he said.
In his budget speech, the Minister touched almost all areas � connectivity, agriculture, rural development, healthcare sector, production of electricity and human resource development.
Calling upon the Centre to stop direct cash transfer schemes, Chowdhury said the foodgrain production is anticipated to increase to 7.64 lakh tonnes during 2013-14 FY against 7.25 lakh tonnes during 2012-13 FY. Likewise, in the Horticulture sector, Tripura has implemented a 10-year perspective plan (2002-2012) for increasing production of horticultural crops.
In his 38-page speech, Chowdhury mentioned the upgradation plan of the Assam-Agartala National Highway (NH-44), Agartala Airport and rail network. He said the PWD would immediately start face-lift work of NH-44 while land has been given to Airport Authority of India (AAI) for upgradation of the State�s lone operational airport.
Besides highlighting the government�s plan, the Finance Minister declared that the State Government plans to establish a State University at MBB College premises. He said the new scheme � giving bicycles to girl students belonging to lower income group which was initiated in the year 2013-14 FY, will continue.
Later, talking to media, Additional Chief Secretary KV Satyanarayanan said this year�s budget has been prepared at a juncture when there is a slowdown in the national economic scenario. Moreover, till date no formal plan discussion has been done with the Planning Commission. However, all the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) have been restricted into 66 CSS and this fund has been included in the budget. The opposition Congress, however, termed the budget as aimless. �A budget is a roadmap for a government on how it wants to carry forward the State. There is nothing in the budget for the common people as well unemployed youths�, said opposition leader Sudip Roy Barman.