SHILLONG, March 13: Reduction in the revenue gap grant and implementation of the fifth pay commission has resulted in an increase in Meghalaya’s fiscal deficit through which Meghalaya has a revenue surplus of over Rs 700 crore during the current year.
This was informed by Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma on Wednesday during a discussion on his budget speech in the Assembly where Conrad said that there has been a lot of concerns expressed about the fiscal deficit of the state which has gone up to Rs 1323 crore in 2019 compared to the last financial year.
Stating that there are valid reasons for this, the chief minister said number one reason is that the revenue gap grant received from the 14th Finance Commission that has been reduced very significantly.
“In fact in the year 2019-20, the revenue gap grant is going to be reduced almost Rs 213 crore it is a huge amount and that can more or less justify the amount of increase that we are seeing from last financial year to this financial year,” he said.
“Why we saw an increase in the fiscal deficit is the effect of the fifth pay commission which took place from January 1, 2017. An additional salary amounting to almost Rs 1000 crore was increased and that is one of the major reasons why this deficit had to go up,” he added.
Having said that, Conrad said he is happy to inform the House that though the fiscal deficit has increased, the revenue deficit is not there.
“In fact we are a revenue surplus state. Compared to the last FY of having a revenue surplus of Rs 495 crore, this year the government has a revenue surplus of Rs 738 crore,” he said.
Stating that it is a very positive trend, Conrad however said that there are challenges that were faced but the government has ensured that the necessary importance and budgeting was given to the concerned departments.
“Even if you look at the state’s own taxes we are looking at a healthy jump and we are going to be getting tax revenue of almost closed to Rs 2600 crores from our own state resources,” Conrad further announced.
He informed that other programmes and schemes besides mechanisms of increasing the state own taxes and non-tax revenue will also implemented even though it was not mentioned in the budget speech.
Pointing out that a lot of stress was given to key sectors in the development budget; Conrad said that the allocation for the Sports and Youth Affairs which is very critical keeping in mind the National Games in 2022 was enhanced to over Rs 200 crore compared to last year’s Rs 65 crore.
In the Health and Family Welfare sector, he said the budget allocation was increases to Rs 704 crore in this financial year which saw an unprecedented jump by 27 percent adding “On an average the developmental budget almost saw an increase of almost close to 18 percent compared to the previous year.”
As for the issue of soil erosion in the Balat area of East Khasi Hills District, the chief minister informed that the Water Resource department has already submitted an estimate of Rs 79 crore to the Central Water Commission (CWC).
Regarding the concern on dams not working in many irrigation projects, Conrad said that there are certain dams which have been damaged but a majority of the irrigation projects and dams are definitely in a functional condition.
Meanwhile, Conrad said that the government is trying to structure all the projects in the health sector. “We will ensure that all projects that are lying idle are activated and certain level of importance will be given to the health sector and creation of posts will be something that the government will be considered this year,” he said. According to him, the post of ANM and chowkidars will be created for a total of 22 sub health centres across the state.