Kolkata, March 20: Providing sops to a cross section of people, West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta Friday presented a Rs.70-million deficit budget in the state assembly for 2009-10. Referring to the “severe worldwide recession”, Dasgupta later told reporters that the “budget is aimed at helping the common people to increase their purchasing power in this difficult time”.
However, the budget proposals did not include any tax rebate. In a bid to provide some relief to the “poorer people” during the global economic meltdown, the budget proposed to distribute rice at Rs.2 per kg for Below Poverty Line card holders through ration shops. “This scheme would continue year after year…and the state government has allocated Rs.422 crore (Rs.4.22 billion) as subsidy for the entire year for this programme,” Dasgupta said in his speech.
While listing the industrial achievements of the state last year, Dasgupta refered to the Tata Nano project not materialising in Singur “due to opposition from a section of the people”. “It is necessary to mention that the realised investment and employment generation would have increased further, if the small car manufacturing unit at Singur could have completed the remaining part of investment and could be linked with the production of downstream units.”
The state government has decided to create a land bank to facilitate setting up of large-scale units in the state by purchasing relatively infertile land from the farmers at a fair price and thereafter by acquiring land in some remaining cases after consulting the farmers. “For this purpose, a decision to create a corpus fund of Rs.500 crore (Rs.5 billion) has been included in the strategy to combat recession,” Dasgupta said.
The state government has decided that it is necessary to create an internal market for information technology (IT) and information technology enabled service (ITeS) units and not make the development of this sector so much dependent on exports. It has allocated Rs.250 million for IT and ITeS and its expansion up to the village level. “As part of the strategy to combat recession, the state government has decided to launch a new scheme of construction and development of housing for the poor and low-income groups with an outlay of Rs.1,000 crore (Rs.10 billion),” he said in the speech.
The state government has planned to appoint 50,000 additional teachers at primary school level. At present, there are 145,000 existing teachers at primary level.