Bihar demands additional assistance, airs grievances of pending dues in pre-Budget meeting

By admin Jun23,2024

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Samrat Choudhary greets Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the pre-Budget meeting in New Delhi.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Samrat Choudhary, who also held the Finance portfolio, on Saturday demanded further assistance and an additional package for Bihar during the pre-Budget meeting with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi.

Mr. Choudhary said that the growth performance of Bihar has been impressive in comparison to major States in the country and it recorded higher growth than developed States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat (8.03%).

“However, in order to sustain the growth momentum, the State needs additional financial assistance for development needs. There was allocation of Special Assistance to States for capital expenditure of ₹1 lakh crore during 2023-24. However, in the interim Union Budget 2024-25, this amount was reduced to ₹55,000 crore. I will request you to keep the amount the same. This will help the States to strengthen their fiscal management through more public investment,” he said.

Mr. Choudhary also urged the Union Minister to enhance the borrowing limit to meet its developmental schemes. He sought an additional borrowing limit of 1% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) beyond the prescribed limit for States like Bihar, without any condition.

Expressing his concern about the energy sector, Mr. Choudhary demanded the implementation of ‘one nation, one tariff’ across the country. He also stressed on setting up coal-based thermal power plants in Pirpainti, Bhagalpur, and Chausa, Buxar.

He also batted for nine airports to expand Bihar’s air connectivity. “I request to make provision in the current Budget for nine airports at Dehri, Saharsa, Forbesganj, Munger, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Raxaul, and Gopalganj. The State is ready to provide land for these airports,” he said.

Speaking about the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), he urged the Central government to bear the maintenance cost of PMGSY in a 60:40 ratio.

He proposed the construction of metro rail in the four big cities — Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga and Bhagalpur — to meet the increasing population and traffic demand.

In the health sector, Mr. Choudhary requested the Centre to consider the establishment of seven government medical colleges — at Munger, Motihari, Gopalganj, Supaul, Begusarai, Mahua (Vaishali), and Ara (Bhojpur) — under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

He also talked about provision of additional funds of ₹17,686.25 crore for salary of teachers under Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)

Mr. Choudhary reminded the Union Minister that Bihar had submitted a proposal worth ₹369.60 crore under ‘Khelo India’, apart from releasing funds of ₹195.77 crore under the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP). He also noted that the government was considering the continuation of salary and allowances for Anganwadi Services, which was discontinued in August 2023; for this purpose, he sought the sanction of an extra ₹46.41 crore, which was currently being borne by the State government.

Despite Bihar’s significant agricultural potential, the State faced disparities in the allocation under Centrally sponsored schemes, the Deputy Chief Minister argued. In 2023-24, Bihar received ₹58.30 crore under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), much less than States like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Assam. Therefore, he demanded that the allocation for NFSM be tripled for Bihar, especially to support maize and millet cultivation.

Mr. Choudhary asserted that the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) had been affected due to inadequate allocation of funds under the Central Share related to pending liabilities in material components and delays in settlement of material dues.

“Under the material component, ₹2410.57 crore was pending in FY 2023-24. For 2024-25, only ₹247.57 crore has been allocated as the Central Share for the material component. The reduced allocation has adversely impacted the full clearance of previous year’s dues, affecting the current year’s implementation of the scheme. Therefore, it is requested that the necessary amount be released for settlement of pending dues from the previous year, “ he submitted.

By admin

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