The annual budget for Mizoram’s next fiscal year (2023-24) was presented by Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday. The total budget proposed for the new fiscal year is 14209.95 crore, an increase of Rs 201.80 crore compared to the previous fiscal year.
In his budget speech, the Chief Minister said the major portion of the State’s resources is used to meet obligatory and operating expenses such as salaries & wages, pensions, subsidies, interest payments, power purchase costs, healthcare and the state’s ‘top-up’ share for salaries of SSA employees among other things.
He emphasised that government spending needs to be handled with prudence as the state had to resort to high borrowings to meet its financial demands. “It is noteworthy that the state has withstood the long traumatising Covid-19 pandemic and hopefully will also outlive the marginal impacts of the Ukraine war. However, the hard reality is that the state will have to put all efforts and make hard policy decisions in increasing its state’s resources,” he said.
The six highlights of the budget were:
15th Finance Commission
As per the budget proposal, the grants expected from the 15th Finance Commission are Rs. 5107.25 crore under the share of taxes, Rs. 1470 crore under post-devolution revenue deficit grant, Rs. 37 crore under urban local body grant, Rs. 72 crore under rural local body grant, Rs. 52 crore under State disaster risk management fund and Rs.32.75 under health grants.
Rise in state revenue
As per the budget, the government expects 1981.29 crore from the state’s revenues, about 20.98% higher than last year. The state’s finance ministry also expects 2670.42 crore from centrally sponsored schemes, 96.44 crore from externally aided projects and 10.71 crore as loan-in. “Estimate for state s revenue for 2023- 24 is made with an optimistic view and kept at 17.24 % of the total Revenue Receipt, and 13. 94% of the total Consolidated Receipt of the State,” said the Chief Minister.
State flagship policy gets a big boost
The state flagship policy Socio-Economic Development Policy has been allotted 595 crores. Out of this total, 300 crores has been set aside for the Family Oriented scheme, 220 crores for counterpart funding, 50 crores for the health care scheme and 25 crores for untied SEDP. The SEDP is the flagship programme of the ruling MNF, which aims at bringing sustainable development by accelerating progress in key sectors through exploration and judicious use of resources and maintaining equality and equity among the citizens. The launch of the family-oriented SEDP came under much speculation last year, as the policy was the main focus of the MNF party’s manifesto in the 2018 assembly elections. The party had promised the public that they would begin working on the policy from day one and distribute 3 lakhs to each family. However, it took three years for the family-oriented policy to be launched while the amount assured for distribution has gone down to Rs. 50,000.
Focus on capital investment
As per the budget plan, the Centre has allocated a sum of Rs. 497. 50 crores under Special Assistance to States for Capital Investment (SASCI) in 2022- 23 which is segregated into four parts. In 2020 – 21, the total allocation was Rs. 200.00 crores while in 2021 – 22, an amount of Rs. 300 crores was allocated under the Scheme. The Chief Minister said, “SASCI is extended by the Centre in the form of a 50-year interest-free loan for capital investment to cushion the shortfall in tax revenue arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the fund is earmarked for development projects across the state.”
Youth for central services
The budget includes an allocation of Rs 50 lakh to prepare more youth to appear in All India Service and Central Service examinations. About Rs 1.2 core has been put aside for colleges after the calculation of the student’s fees. The Mizoram government has been taking various initiatives to encourage the youth to clear central service exams. One example is the ‘Super IAS 20’ programme which was launched in 2020-2021 to provide sponsorship to students for a six-month crash course in Delhi, however, the selected candidates were unable to clear the civil service exams. Though Mizoram is the second-highest literate state in the country, it has produced only a few IAS officers. Grace Lalrindiki Pachuau, the daughter of former state chief secretary Vanhela Pachuau, was the last person from the state to crack the exams in 2014.
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As per the financial statement, 157.90 crore was allotted as a direct subsidy towards the Power & Electricity department to reduce bills. Last year, according to state power and electricity minister, R Lalzirliana, the Mizoram government had outstanding dues of electricity bills amounting to over Rs 132 crore to be paid to power companies from where the state purchases power. Mizoram purchases about 85 per cent of electric power from six PSUs, including NEEPCO, NHPC, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), ONGC Tripura Power Company Limited (OTPC) and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL).
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