Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday presented the additional Budget for 2019-20 with a pro-farmer tilt. The State government has decided to expand the scope of existing accident insurance to cover about 5.5 crore family members of farmers in the State.
This is the last Budget of the Devendra Fadnavis government before the Maharashtra Assembly elections.
The Finance Minister provided a budgetary outlay of ?210 crore, which takes care of the premium cost of the insurance scheme in the new avatar. The existing insurance scheme named after late Gopinathji Munde gives insurance cover of up to ?2 lakh to farmers whose names are in the 7/12 revenue land record extract. The premium for the scheme is paid by the State government.
Mungantiwar in his Budget speech also announced that in order to give farmers direct access to markets for their agricultural produce and make available all necessary infrastructure facilities in the value chain, the State of Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) will be implemented with the help of World Bank.
The project aims to create value chain for various crops by directly connecting farmers’ companies to the purchasing companies. This project will approximately cost ?2,220 crore.
Keeping in view the farm sector distress in Maharashtra since 2016 and the pitched battles faced by Fadnavis government over farm loan waiver, the Finance Minister said that at present ?24,102 crore has been sanctioned to 50.27 lakh account holders under the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari SanmanYojana, the farm loan waiver scheme.
The Government is going to take a decision shortly to give the benefit of this scheme to those farmers who have become ineligible for technical or other reason. The Government is committed to making farmers debt-free and in any case there will not be any shortage of funds for this scheme till the last eligible farmer becomes debt-free, he said.
The Budget, which has been presented three months before State Assembly elections, has focussed on agriculture, irrigation and infrastructure.
It proposes ?12,000 crore for the irrigation sector, ?350 crore for micro-irrigation and ?600 crore for research and development by four agricultural universities.
Mungantiwar also announced that the State government’s debt has reached ?4,14,411 crore, but given the size of the state's economy, the debt could be serviced.
The Maharashtra government desires to create maximum employment through the MSME sector. Under a new scheme, industrial parks will be created at each taluka level for MSMEs . As a pilot project, it is proposed to create such parks in 50 talukas initially. Out of the total plots developed under this scheme, 30 per cent will be reserved for women entrepreneurs. For 2019-20, an outlay of ?300 crore will be reserved for this scheme, he said.
There is no new tax in the Budget, but some aspects of value added tax have been tinkered with, which will give some relief to taxpayers in terms of interest and late fees.