Kolkata | February 28, 2006 8:44:14 PM IST
Castigating the Union Budget for 2006-07, West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta today said it failed to propose any concrete measure to bring down unempleoyment and protect the interests of satates.
In his reaction, Dr Dasgupta said though the Economic Survey had indicated a 3.4 per cent and two per cent increase in the rate of unemployment for males respectively in rural and urban areas, no attempt had been made provide a concrete proposal for employment generation through production in agriculture and industry.
In the Centre-State relation, he said the state’s share of Central taxes had fallen in the current year to Rs. 94.4 thousand crore from Rs 94.9 thousand crore, though the budget had projected a higher devolution in the next year.
No proposal for debt relief related to small savings loans (NSSF) to the states had been mentioned, although this was discussed in National Development Council, he said.
" This Budget has failed to propose ways to create employment and safeguard the interests of the states, " he told reporters at the state secretariat.
He also urged the centre to compensate fully for the loss of revenue to the states due to the proposed inclusion of LPG in the category of declared goods with implied reduction of tax rate to four per cent from 12.5 per cent.
Dr Dasgupta said though the Government had made a provision under National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme(NREGS) to ensure 100 days of employment guarantee in relation to construction or maintenance of infrastructure, the budgetary provisoion was only Rs 11,300 crore against a requirement of Rs 40,000 crore, he said.
At the same time the budgetary provision of Rs 5,400 crore on account of National Food for Work Programme had been abolished and that on Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana(SGRY) reduced to Rs 3,000 crore for next year from this year’s Rs 3,600 crore, he said.
While welcoming the proposal for providing short term credit to the farmer at seven per cent rate of interest, he said the coverage of credit by organixsed banking sector was only 27 per cent.
The budgetary provision for water resources had been increased only marginally while it was not clear how the problem of Ganga-Padma erosion along with other problems of all other states would be addressed.
" It is also noted that in the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme(AIBP), the contribution of the Centre had been reduced to 33 per cent from 66 per cent of the project, and the rest has to be borne by states," Dr Dasgupta said.
The budget proposals would also have an adverse effect on small scale industries, having an important role in employment generation, while the proposed reduction in subsidy was likely to affect the interests of common people supposed to be covered under Public Distribution System.
Similarly, the proposed enhancement of cess on domestically produced petroleum crude by nearly 40 per cent would tell upon the prices of petrol and diesel, he added.
Dr Dasgupta, however, welcomed the increase in outlay for elementary education to Rs 25.5 thousand crore from Rs 19.1 thousand crore and that for public health to Rs 11,688 crore from Rs 9,682 crore.
He, however, pointed out that the increased outlay fell "far short" of the target of expenditure of two to three per cent of GDP.