By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, February 08 2024: Odisha Finance Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha Thursday presented an interim budget of Rs 1.18 lakh crore for the first four months of the 2024-25 fiscal in the assembly. The state government has presented a vote-on-account instead of a full budget in view of the upcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly.

Claiming that Odisha has now become more than a 100 billion dollar economy, the finance minister said that the total budget outlay for the next financial year will be Rs 2.55 lakh crore, which is about 11 per cent more than the annual budget of 2023-24. Odisha has now become more than a 100 billion dollar economy. Since 2015-16, the state has registered an average growth of 7.25 per cent, which is about 1 per cent higher than the average growth of the national economy, Arukha said.

According to advance estimates for 2023-24, it is projected that the state economy will grow at 8.5 per cent compared to 7.3 per cent of the country. Thus, Odisha continues to be a bright spot in the whole country, he pointed out.

Keeping in view the requirement of funds for expenditure on payment of salary, pension, interest payment, repayment of principal, relief, old age pension, scholarship of ST & SC students and other on-going scheme and programmes, a sum of Rs 1,18,000 crore is proposed in the vote on account, the minister said in the House.

Of the total Rs 2.55 crore provision, Rs 1,03,500 crore has been allocated for administrative expenditure, Rs 1.40 lakh crore for programme expenditure, Rs 3,900 crore for disaster management and Rs 7,600 crore for transfer to Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies, Arukha said.

Stating that leaving no one behind’ has been the governance motto of the BJD government for the last 24 years, the minister said, We are relentlessly working for empowerment of women, youth and vulnerable sections of the society. The 5T (transformational) mantra of our government has brought about transformative and paradigmatic change in our approach to governance.

To take the legacy of Lord Jagannath forward, Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha (Our Odisha, New Odisha) has been launched and the government has earmarked more than Rs 4,000 crore to implement various initiatives under the scheme, he said.

Considering that a sizable percentage of the state’s population depends on agriculture, Rs 28,944 crore has been allocated for agriculture and allied sector, which is 16.6 per cent higher than the outlay of the previous year.
The finance minister proposed to allocate Rs 3,980 crore for around 53 lakh beneficiaries under social security pension schemes.

The state government has set an ambitious target for transformation of 1,858 healthcare facilities within a period of five years with an investment of Rs.3,389 crore. An outlay of Rs 1,314 crore has been proposed for the purpose in the budget for 2024-25, he said.

Similarly, an outlay of Rs 5,450 crore has been proposed for the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) scheme in the budget while Rs 529 crore allocated for “Mission Shakti Scooter Yojana and Rs 1,449 crore for disbursement of scholarship to 14.86 lakh ST, SC and OBC students.

The state government has allocated Rs 1,050 crore for the skill development sector and Rs 21,004 crore for construction of logistics like roads, bridges, airports and railways including Rs 1,000 crore for metro rail, which is 25 per cent higher than last year, the minister said.

Arukha said the Srimandir Parikrama Prakalpa (Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor project) is a milestone in the annals of history of Odisha and the world.

We have also dedicated the Samalei project (redevelopment of Samaleswari Temple in Sambalpur district) within a record time. Establishment of a new campus of Odia University at Satyabadi and organization of the 1st World Odia Bhasha Sammilani are important steps in growth of Odia language, literature and culture, he said.

Stating that preservation and protection of these monuments is essential for the future generation, the finance minister said, We are taking up about 150 projects under the ABADHA scheme to be completed by 2025-26 with a massive investment of Rs 1,400 crore.

On the fiscal status of the state, he said the debt stock at the end of 2024-25 is projected to remain at 13.1 per cent of GSDP against the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003) mandated level of 25 per cent.

Similarly, the interest payment to revenue receipt ratio is projected to remain at 3.7 per cent against the FRBM prescribed level of 15 per cent, he added.

Opposition chief whip and senior BJP leader Mohan Charan Majhi said the interim budget has nothing to meet the problems of unemployment.

“There is no point in claiming a revenue surplus budget while 2.5 lakh posts remain vacant for years, Majhi said.

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