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Conrad tables Rs. 1,592 cr deficit budget for 2023-24, calls it ‘People’s Budget’

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Shillong, March 23: Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday tabled a Rs 1,592 crore deficit budget for 2023-24, which is around 3.42 percent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) even as he termed it as a “people’s budget”.

The total receipts is at Rs 21,781 crore, of which the revenue receipts are estimated at Rs 19,414 crore and capital receipts at Rs 2,366 crore, Sangma said in his budget speech.

Excluding borrowings of Rs 2,339 crore, the total receipts are estimated to be at Rs 19,442 crore, he said adding that the total expenditure is estimated at Rs 22,022 crore, of which the revenue expenditure is estimated at Rs 17,186 crore and capital expenditure at Rs 4,836 crore.

According to the chief minister, who holds the charge of the Finance department, the estimated total expenditure is Rs 21,034 crore excluding repayment of loans of Rs 988 crore.

He said the interest payments for 2023-24 are estimated at Rs 1,169 crore and pension payments at Rs 1,794 crore.

“I am, therefore, presenting the budget for 2023-24 with a fiscal deficit of Rs 1,592 crore, which is around 3.42 percent of the GSDP,” Sangma said.

Dedicating the budget to the people of the state, the chief minister said, “I would like to term this budget the ‘People’s Budget’.”

He reiterated his promise to transform Meghalaya to be amongst the top 10 states of the country by 2032, when the state will celebrate its diamond jubilee of statehood and said, “The goal is to be amongst the top 10 states in terms of per capital GDP and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we will strive to build a prosperous and a happy Meghalaya.”

Outlining the core development vision of the MDA 2.0 government which will be prioritized for the next five years, Sangma said, “We will bring policies and programs to double the GSDP to around Rs 80,000 crore by 2027-28 and make Meghalaya a 10 Billion-dollar economy. The effort will be to increase both government expenditure and private investments through prioritizing trade, tourism, high-value agriculture and building a knowledge economy.”

He said the government will also strive to double farmers’ income for the approximately 6 lakh rural households, to achieve nearly zero infant and maternal mortality by ensuring 100% institutional delivery, ensure every child born gets the best opportunities to reach their full potential and to create 5 lakh employment opportunities for the youth with a special focus on agri and allied sectors, knowledge and digital services, entrepreneurship and tourism.

The other development visions of the government include creation of a robust sports ecosystem to nurture future olympians, to transform Meghalaya into the most preferred eco-tourism destination, uninterrupted electricity and functional tap water for every household, to build a new Shillong city and increase border trade.

The chief minister said for the next financial year, the GSDP is expected to increase to Rs 46,600 crore, an expected growth rate of 11.5 percent.

He said that the revised estimates for the share of central taxes for the current financial year is projected at Rs 7,386 crore adding this is about 18% higher than the budgetary estimates of Rs 6,264 crore.

The total central transfers for the current financial year are expected at Rs 8,706 crore including the Finance Commission devolutions and other transfers from the Centre while excluding scheme-related transfers.

“In the financial year 2023-24, I am estimating the share of central taxes at Rs 7,834 crore and a total amount of Rs 8,908 crore as central transfers,” he said.

Stating that the scheme for special assistance to states for capital investment’ to spur investment in infrastructure has been enhanced, the chief minister said, “For the current financial year, we have already drawn our share Rs 742 crore and invested in critical capital projects. Given our effective utilization, we were allocated an extra Rs 307 crore by the Union government, taking our total allocation to Rs 1,049 crore for 2022-23. For 2023-24, I am estimating the allocation under this important scheme to be Rs 1,003 crore.”

He said that despite the massive disruptions caused by the pandemic, the state’s growth rate for the period 2018-23 is at 6.75%.

“Importantly, the year-on-year growth rate for the next year is projected at 11.5 percent. Extrapolating this trend for the next 5 years, I expect the state’s economy to grow to about Rs 80,000 crore by 2027-28 making Meghalaya a Billion-dollar economy.”

Further, the chief minister said that the state’s own tax and non-tax revenues have also been increasing steadily.

“As per the revised estimates for the current financial year, our own-tax revenue will reach Rs 2,636 crore. For 2023-24, I am estimating our own tax revenue to increase by about 22% to reach Rs 3,205 crore. This includes Rs 1,785 crore as GST, Rs 792 crore as taxes on sales and trade and Rs 413 crore as excise,” he said.

Stating that the state’s own non-tax revenue for the current financial year is expected to reach Rs 590 crore, Sangma said, “This is an increase of 125% over the previous year’s collections of Rs 525 crore. For 2023-24, I am expecting the state’s own non-tax revenue to further increase by about 26% to reach Rs 742 crore. The process of obtaining mining leases for starting scientific mining from the Union Ministry of Coal is at an advanced stage.”

Estimating that the total expenditure for 2023-24 at Rs 22,022 crore, Sangma said this comprises Rs 17,186 crore of revenue expenditure and Rs 4,836 crore of capital expenditure.

“I am pleased to announce that the projected capital outlay for 2023-24 is an increase of 14 percent over the year 2023-24 and 38.5 percent over the year 2021-22. This substantial increase in capital expenditure will be the foundation for the projected increase in economic growth,” he stated.

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