Zoramthanga presents Rs 30 Cr deficit budget in Mizoram

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Aizawl, Mar 13 (UNI) Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, also holding the Finance portfolio, today presented a Rs 30.36 crore deficit budget for 2008-09 in the Assembly.

The state annual budget consisted of Rs 1,623.83 crore under non-plan and Rs 1,001.21 crore plan outlay, which included provisions from the North Eastern Council (NEC) and Centrally sponsored schemes.

In his budget speech, Mr Zoramthanga said the estimated opening deficit to the tune of Rs 84.65 crore was expected to close with Rs 30.36 crore due to the surplus to the tune of Rs 54.29 crore in the budget estimate of the next fiscal.

He said the fact that the State Government no longer needed to park huge fund in the Public Account to meet expenditure requirements on the Consolidated fund indicated continued improvement of the state finance.

He promised to maintain the position enabling the government to refrain from keeping idle funds in public account deposits.

However, he expressed concern over the increasing pressure on non-plan expenditure and the burgeoning interest payments, especially on the increasing salary and pension components due to revisions of pay and dearness allowances of the State Government employees.

The Chief Minister said the estimated amount of salary expenditure for 2008-09 formed 34.85 per cent of revenue expenditure and 27.73 per cent of net total expenditure in the Consolidated fund.

He also said the estimated expenditure on Pension Bill formed 5.22 per cent of the revenue expenditure and 4.15 per cent of net total expenditure in the Consolidated fund.

It was with an attempt to rein in the non-plan expenditure that the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2006, was passed and it had been the conscious endeavor of the government to achieve the target, set out in the Act to help the state finance continuously move towards a path of fiscal balance and sustainability, he added.

Mr Zoramthanga said though he did not have any proposal to introduce new taxes and enhance rates of taxes, he might review rates on VAT in tune with the recommendations of the All India VAT Empowered Committee.

He stated that the government, rather than introducing fresh taxes and increasing tax rates, would ensure efficiency in collection. Agriculture with allied activities and rural development with particular emphasis on self-sufficiency in food production, employment generation and poverty eradication were the priorities of the budget, he said.

Initiatives to be taken during the fiscal would include assistance to Jhummia families for innovative activities, National Agriculture Insurance scheme to be implemented on 50:50 sharing pattern between the Centre and the State Government and market intervention in selected crops.

He also said economic infrastructure like road communication, power generation and also social services like education, health services and sports and youth services would also continue to be the priorities of the government.

Mr Zoramthanga also presented Supplementary Demands for grants for the current fiscal amounting to Rs 722.03 crore.

This will be the last budget for the present MNF government.

UNI ZS SJC/src RL RN1826

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