Budget 2013-14 Made in Gujarat, for India

Wednesday
Narendra Modi says it's better than Union budget since 65% of its share is earmarked for development.

The Rs 1,14,450-crore Gujarat budget for financial year 2013-2014 proposed by Finance Minister Nitin Patel in the state assembly Wednesday, the first of Chief Minister Narendra Modi's newly-elected government, sought to tell the Gujarat growth story vis-a-vis India's and achieve the five-year dream in the first year itself. As Modi put it in a release, "The new budget for 2013-14 would build new confidence among people and showcase state's potentialities before the world."Focussed mainly on youth, farmers and children, it announced new missions and schemes, referring to India as one of "the youngest nations across the globe". The budget announced skill development corporations, new schools and foreign language courses to be taken up by the education department. A press statement by Modi said, "Even as the Central government earmarks just 35 per cent of the Union Budget for development work, the Gujarat government spends as much as 65 per cent of the state Budget on development work." Talking about Gujarat contributing a lion's share in the nation's development, Modi said, "Although the state government was elected for a five-year term, it resolves to fulfil the people's aspirations from the very first year itself. Although Gujarat's contribution to the nation during the Twelfth Five Year Plan has begun in the outgoing financial year, the state government proposes to take Gujarat to greater heights, contributing a lion's share to the nation's development as well, for a prosperous future."

While Patel's budget speech termed malnutrition as a "national problem today", the chief minister's statement added that "the new budget would also handsomely contribute to women's empowerment and their welfare, to healthcare and to create awareness against malnutrition".

So there is the mission "Balam Sukham" for which the government has allocated Rs 24 crore "for improving the status of nutrition". This is besides Rs 1,094 crore allocated under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

The release by Modi also says, "India is the world's most youthful (young in age) country and its youth should get opportunity to chip in their contribution to development."

The finance minister announced a skill development corporation to prepare "industry-responsive" skilled youth. Identifying a "neo-middle class youth", Patel's said in his budget speech, "We intend to launch a massive campaign to prepare skilled manpower in line with the requirements of the international trends and thus fulfil the expectations of this neo-middle class youth".

Thus, one of the plans is to have the state education department take up teaching of foreign languages like Japanese, Chinese, German, "so that they can be more competitive in the ever changing scenario of the world economy".

A Rs 70-crore allocation was also made for youth related activities to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

The budget, claiming to be for inclusive development, seeks to strike balance for growth in both agricultural and industry, enhance quality of life in villages and cities by focussing on housing and infrastructure.

However, like increased size of the budget, tax burden on Gujarat citizens has been estimated to go up by Rs 44 crore when the state is expecting collective tax revenue from state and central taxes to the tune of Rs 85,752.04 crore.

The budget also makes a provision of Rs 4,400 crore for creating housing facilities in rural and urban areas under the "Mukhya Mantri Aawas Samrudhdhi Yojna". The aim is to create slum-free cities to support the neo-middle class and replace kachcha houses with permanent structures in the rural areas.

Also, Rs 1,000 crore has been allocated to fill up all 115 dams in Saurashtra with Narmada water under Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Yojana.

The budget also proposes Gujarat Agricultural Commission for policy formation.

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