Maharashtra presents farm-friendly budget for 2017

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MUMBAI: Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Friday said the Opposition was not concerned about the plight of farmers and their demand for a loan waiver is a "political gimmick"."Their demands are only political gimmicks".

Last year, in the Budget 2016-2017, revenue income was estimated at Rs 220,810 crore, but he said it was likely to touch Rs 220,011 crore, leaving a deficit of Rs 799 crore.

The Maharashtra state budget for the year 2017-18 will be presented in the state assembly today. Provisions of 8233 crore for irrigation projects, Rs 979 crore to compensate backlog of agriculture pumps and implementation of agriculture infrastructure projects, Rs 400 crore for the world bank assisted project of weather resilient agriculture and Rs 200 crore for pilot project on group farming to improve agricultural production were some of the provisions that he mentioned.

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In addition to irrigation, Rs 1200 crore is earmarked for the state's water conservation scheme, Jalyukta Shivar Yojana.

The government has also hiked tax on the weekly, online and lottery tickets on basis of draw from Rs 70,000 to Rs 100,000. "In the immediate context, with the Union government not taking any concrete steps on farm debt-waiver, the finance minister will have to accommodate the farm sector's and political parties' concerns in the budget", said a senior BJP minister who did not wish to be named. In a bid to develop infrastructure in the state, the finance minister announced setting up of a special objective vehicle to raise Rs 1 lakh crore. Value-Added Tax on Gas & Electricity incinerators reduced from 13.5% to 0%.

Amid protests from the Opposition members, Fadnavis said the government was planning to introduce more schemes for farmers. This, too, would only be considered after proper consultations with the central government, he said.

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It has also been chose to take up distribution of 7 TMC water in next four years through the Krishna Marathwada Project, which is a boon for Marathwada, the Minister said. The government has declared Rs1,316 crore for the scheme.

The state government had allotted Rs9,051 crore past year, which was Rs1,308 crore less than in 2015-16.

While preparing the state for the GST rollout from July 1, Mungantiwar has largely exempted the 12 crore people of Maharashtra from additional tax burdens.

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The Government has proposed Rs 350 crore for the welfare of minorities in the Budget, he said and added that an amount of Rs 125 crore has been provided for improvement of the settlement of minorities as well as for providing various basic facilities in rural and urban areas. The key issue that is set to be raised within the house is that of loan waivers to farmers in the state. Mungantiwar's entire budget speech was drowned after Congress-NCP shouted slogans and came in ringing cymbals in the Assembly.

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