West Bengal Presents Rs 3.39 Lakh Crore Budget, Focus On Farmers, Tea Sector

Mamata Banerjee lauded her colleague, claiming it covered all sections of society. (File)


Ahead of panchayat elections, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government on Wednesday presented a Rs 3.39-lakh crore budget for 2023-24, focusing on farmers, an ailing tea sector, the state’s potential as a logistics hub, and budding entrepreneurs.

Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said the state GDP is projected to grow at 8.4 per cent and the industry at 7.8 per cent in the ongoing 2022-23 fiscal, both higher than the country’s expected growth rates.

“I propose to provide a 3,39,162 crore budget for the financial year 2023-24,” Ms Bhattacharya said while placing the financial statement in the assembly.

She said an upcoming West Bengal Logistics Policy 2023 will leverage the state’s strategic position at the crossroads of South Asia and ASEAN nations to create a global logistics hub.

“It will streamline the sector and help Bengal to secure a strategic position in the global supply chain,” Ms Bhattacharya said.

The development of an Industrial and Economic Corridor with three branches –Dankuni-Haldia, Dankuni-Raghunathpur and Dankuni-Kalyani — “will provide better connectivity and create employment opportunity for about one lakh people,” she added.

The minister also said a Rs 350-crore fund will be set up to extend credit of up to Rs 5 lakh each to 2 lakh young entrepreneurs.

Reacting to the budget, Vivek Jalan, Partner, Tax Connect Advisory, said amidst increase in tax collections due to increased GST compliance and collections in Bengal, the focus has been on employment and industry.

Announcing sops for the ailing tea sector and for rural areas, which will be witnessing panchayat polls soon, the finance minister said, “Agricultural income tax on tea gardens for 2023-24 and 2024-25 will be waived. Also, 11,500-km of rural roads will be constructed at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore under the ‘Rastashree’ scheme.” “Allocation towards construction of old and new rural roads would boost the agrarian economy,” Mr Jalan said.

Besides, the budget proposes full waiver of charges on irrigation water supplied to farms, and exemption of payment of rural employment cess.

“I am happy to announce that my government will bring out a policy for issuance of homestead patta for eligible tea garden workers,” she said.

The minister also declared an additional dearness allowance of 3 per cent for state government employees, including teachers and pensioners.

Reaching out to the fishermen community, Ms Bhattacharya said a new ‘Matsyajeebi Bandhu’ scheme will be launched to support family members in case of the untimely death of a fisherman.

“Under the scheme, the dependent family member shall receive a one-time grant of Rs 2 lakh in case of death of a registered fisherman within the age group of 18-60 years,” Bhattacharya said.

After the budget was presented, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lauded her colleague, claiming it covered all sections of society.

“Despite discrimination by the Centre, this state budget has tried to help all sections of the state. This budget is targeted towards the farmers and youth and is aimed towards employment generation,” Banerjee said in the assembly.

Meanwhile, the opposition BJP staged a walkout from the assembly, protesting against the CM’s statement after the budget speech was read out.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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