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Bihar’s 2022-23 Budget expects to focus on infrastructure, generation of jobs

|HT|


Bihar’s 2022-23 Budget scheduled to be presented on February 28 is expected to focus on infrastructure, generation of jobs, and incentives for entrepreneurs to push growth after two years of the pandemic-induced economic slump, officials aware of the matter said. The state government is believed to have got an assurance of up to ₹10000 crore in interest-free loans under capital expenditure (CAPEX) fund of ₹1 lakh crore for states in the Union Budget for infrastructure.

“Bihar is eligible to get 10 % of the total fund as interest-free loans. That way, it can borrow up to ₹10000 crore to be repaid in the next 50 years. This fund will be used in capital expenditure with the possibility of new state schemes being taken up for roads, power, development of villages, etc,” said an official, who did not want to be named.

A second official said the government will soon send proposals for infrastructure-related schemes to utilise the fund. The disbursements are expected to start from May or June. Bihar received loans of ₹843 crore in 2020-21 and ₹1246 crore in 2021-22 from the Centre under the fund.

Officials said the Budget may have some big announcements in terms of the generation of jobs both in the private and public sectors to push growth. Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal has been critical of the government for failing in fulfilling its poll promise of 1.9 million jobs.

The government has fast-tracked the recruitment of 42000 teachers. It is likely to invite applications for vacancies in health, commercial taxes, and other departments.

The state’s Budget’s outlay is expected to be around ₹2.25 lakh crore, a rise by around ₹7000 crore. Officials said the government is optimistic about higher central devolutions and better internal revenue but is keen on keeping the Budget size realistic. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India earlier said the government prepared unrealistic budgets by spending much less than the total outlays. In 2020-21, the government managed to spend only ₹1.66 lakh crore against ₹2.11 lakh crore. In the current fiscal, expenditure is expected to be ₹2 lakh crore compared to the Budget allocation of ₹2.18 lakh crore.

The government is expected to announce more incentives for entrepreneurs under Mukhya Mantri Udyami Yojana to generate jobs. “There is an assumption that the state facing challenges of providing jobs to migrants having returned home and generate employment will focus on entrepreneurship as a medium to tackle unemployment,” said Centre for Economic Policy and Public Finance assistant professor Bakshi Amit Kumar Sinha. He said the 2.5% growth in State Gross Domestic Product in 20-21 despite economic contraction reflected a sustainable growth trajectory. Sinha said the government is likely to focus on capital expenditure and filling up vacancies in the health sector, rural infrastructure. “Higher public investment will give impetus to the economy for higher growth.”



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