Tripura budget-2014-2015, Rs 158 crore deficit uncovered

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Agartala, February 20: Setting a record of sorts , Tripura finance minister Badal Chowdhury on February 19 presented his 17th successive budget of the state for the 2014-2015 financial year. He had presented his first budget in the year 1998 after being sworn in as finance minister of the state.

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Tripura Finance Minister Badal Chaudhury

The budget of Rs 12,404 crores presented by the finance minister as expenditure for the 2014-2015 financial year as against estimated total receipt of Rs 12,246 crores left an uncovered deficit of Rs 158 crores.

In a statement issued to the media on different aspects of the budget the finance minister hoped to cover up the deficit by 'compressing non-development expenditure, stepping up resource mobilisation, better tax enforcement and through austerity measures’.

As in all previous years, the budget presented by the finance minister was tax-free but again, as in previous years, the finance department is likely to increase tax and duties by executive decision later in the financial year.

In his budget speech, the finance minister's constant refrain was 'flawed assessment of the state's needs' by the 13th finance commission which was capped by a statement that 14th finance commission had been urged upon to make up for the state's losses in fund ' so that state government employees are not deprived of salary and allowances at par with the central government employees'. In regard to the health services in the state Badal said that improvement in health services would be prioritized by the state government and efforts would be made to raise the number of primary health centres to 125 from the present 83 across the state . In the 2014-2015 financial year five more primary health centres would be set up.

He also referred to the achievement of the state government in reducing infant mortality rate in the state , asserting that at present the infant mortality rate in Tripura was 28 per thousand as against the national average of 42 per thousand, according to the latest findings of the sample registration survey (SRS) conducted by the government of India.

The finance minister announced that a state university would be set up by the state government following upgradation of the earlier Tripura University to a central university in the year 2006. Infrastructure building work for setting up the university will be taken up in the next financial year and colleges in the state including technical institutions will be duly upgraded.

Badal also focussed on the state's achievement in the sector of electrification, asserting that over the past two years 23 remote villages in the hilly interiors of Karbook and Amarpur subdivisions inhabited by 2242 indigenous families had been provided with solar power connectivity. 'Altogether 69 solar photovoltaic power plants have been installed in boys hostels , girls hostels , residential schools and market sheds in different districts of the state' said Badal.

He rued the fact that the state would receive only Rs 600 crores as non-plan gap grant in 2014-2015 as against Rs 835 crores received in 2013-2014. 'This is due to the under-assessment of our requirement by the 13th finance commission but we are trying to cope with the situation through higher mobilisation of our own resources' said Badal.

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