By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 10, 2018: Primary sector, social welfare and strengthening of economic foundation will get priority in Odisha’s forthcoming annual budget for 2018-19.

“Priorities are several; we will try to place in the 2018-19 budget all that is needed for primary sector, social welfare and strengthening of economic foundation,” finance minister Sashi Bhusan Behera told reporters after a pre-budget consultation meeting with financial experts and former finance ministers here today.

After the meeting, finance secretary Tuhin Kant Pande has hinted of a bigger size 2018-19 budget.

“When resources increase, budget’s size will definitely increase. The overall view was that the State fiscal management is good. All parameters pertaining to Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management are being met properly,” said Pande.

“Several mines that could not pay the penalty have been closed, this may result in fall in revenue. Since elections are due in 2019, the government is likely to make several promises for which more money may be required,” said former Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai, who attended the meeting.

The State government’s very own food security scheme, Odia language and culture, payment of arrears to government employees, salary hike and regularization of NHRM nurses, demands of anganwadi employees, teachers etc are some of the several issues that the State government has to consider while preparing the budget keeping in mind the 2019 elections.

The state government has so far received 9,000 suggestions through email, web portal and text messaging. Meanwhile, the State government on Wednesday extended the deadline by a week up to January 17 for receiving suggestions on budget from the public.

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