Bihar govt presents Rs 2.18 lakh crore budget, no new tax, impetus to entrepreneurship

Bihar govt presents Rs 2.18 lakh crore budget, no new tax, impetus to entrepreneurship
(Eds: Adds inputs, corrects designation of an official in last para)

Patna, Feb 22 () The Bihar government on Monday presented a Rs 2.18 lakh crore budget, with no new tax and a thrust on infrastructure and social sectors, besides giving a fillip to entrepreneurship.

Presenting the revenue-surplus budget in the assembly, Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad, who holds the finance portfolio, proposed to create a separate department for skill development and entrepreneurship.

The decision would ensure better coordination for running ITIs and polytechnic colleges which are now run by the labour department and the science and technology department respectively, he said.
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Prasad also reaffirmed the government's promise of creating 20 lakh employment opportunities, in private and public sectors combined, by the time it completes its term in 2025, and to this end, a sum of Rs 200 crore has been allocated for the industries department.

To encourage entrepreneurship, grants will be given by the government for startups which could be to the tune of 50 per cent of one's project cost or up to Rs 5 lakh in addition to loans of up to Rs five lakh at a nominal one per cent interest rate, he said.

Women entrepreneurs will be given special incentives in the form of interest-free loans of up to Rs 5 lakh, he said.
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Prasad, who took over as Deputy CM in November last year, said in his maiden budget speech that the highest allocation of Rs 38,035.93 crore has been made for education, followed by Rs 16,835.67 crore for rural development, Rs 15,227.74 crore for roads, Rs 13,264.87 crore for health and Rs 8,560 crore for energy.

The deputy chief minister said an allocation of Rs 4,671 crore was made for the second phase of 'Saat Nischay' (seven resolves) programme, implemented immediately after the Nitish Kumar-led NDA's return to power. Kumar had, in 2015, announced the first phase of Rs 2.7-lakh crore 'Saat Nischay', and promised to implement the second phase during the assembly polls.
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Promotion of entrepreneurship, enhancement of skill, improvement of irrigation facilities, strengthening of health infrastructure, better connectivity and development of clean and prosperous villages and cities are some of the components of the seven resolves.

Addressing a press conference after presenting the budget, Prasad said, "We have not imposed any new tax. We have presented a budget of Rs 2,18,302.70 crore for 2021-22, which is Rs 6,541.21 crore more than the current year's estimates of Rs 2,11,761.49 crore. The revenue surplus is estimated at Rs 9,195.90 crore."

The state's fiscal deficit has been estimated at Rs 22,510.78 crore in the budget, which is 2.97 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product, estimated at Rs 7,57,026 crore, the deputy CM said.
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"We have kept the fiscal deficit target within the three per cent limit," he said.

Lauding the "balanced" budget, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said in a statement that it has been prepared, keeping in mind the interests of all sections of people in the society.

He also expressed confidence that the budget will keep up the growth momentum in the state, which has witnessed double-digit annual growth rates since 2004-05.
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Other highlights of the budget include proposals for setting up of universities devoted to imparting higher learning in medical, engineering and sports.

Rajgir, one of the state's most popular tourist destinations, has been proposed as the site for the sports university besides an international cricket stadium and sports academy, Prasad said.

He also announced that solar street light will be installed in village roads under the second phase of "Saat Nischay" scheme for which Rs 150 crore has been allocated in 2021-22.
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He declined to comment when asked whether the state government will consider a proposal to lower sales tax on petrol and diesel to provide relief to the people.

Responding to a query if the government will make any proposal to bring the petroleum products under the GST regime, principal secretary, finance, S Siddhartha, who was present at the press conference interjected, saying "we are not taking up any such suggestion for discussion." AR NAC BDC BDC
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