Bhubaneswar: The Assembly on Saturday passed the Odisha Appropriation (Vote-on-Account) Bill, 2018 allowing the State Government to withdraw funds to the tune of Rs 16,500 crore for its expenditure for April.
Moving the Appropriation Bill, Finance Minister Shashi Bhusan Behera said since the Assembly is not able to vote for the full budget before commencement of the new financial year, beginning April 1, the State Government seeks approval of the House for this grant in advance to incur expenditure on various items, including welfare programmes for the people.
Responding to Opposition allegations that the State Government has failed on all fronts, the Finance Minister highlighted some of the major initiatives taken to address problems of the people.
One such initiative is the ‘Ama Gaon Ama Vikas’ (Our Village, Our Development) in which the Chief Minister directly reaches out to the people through video conferencing, listens to their needs and sanctions projects as per their requirements. A provision of Rs 1,250 crore has been made in the budget, he added.
Apart from a separate agriculture budget, an additional outlay of Rs 250 crore has been made for farmers’ welfare. Besides, a number of new initiatives have been taken to provide better health care to the people.
The Government has made a provision for Rs 125 crore in the budget for providing four LED bulbs to the poor households free of cost under ‘Ama Ghare LED light’ scheme. ‘Green Mahanadi’ is another programme to increase water retention capacity of Mahanadi river for better livelihood of the people.
In order to improve the food security, the State Government has also launched Odisha Millet Mission with a budgetary support of Rs 100 crore.
Dubbing the State’s budget for the next financial year as a balanced one, Behera said this has been hailed as one of the best budget even by the critics of this government.
Initiating the debate on the Bill, Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra criticised the ruling party for failing to meet the basic needs of the people even after 18 years in power. While a large section of the people of the State is still deprived of safe drinking water, the Government has not been able to provide minimum health services to the rural people. The education system has collapsed due to lack of teachers, he added.
Noting that the pension provided to old age persons, widows, physically challenged under social security net is is too small, Mishra made a strong plea to increase the monthly dole from Rs 300 to Rs 1000. The Vote-on-Account appropriation Bill was passed in voice vote.
Provisions made in Budget
Rs 1,250 cr for Ama Gaon, Ama Vikas
Rs 250 cr for additional outlay for farmers’ welfare
Rs 125 cr for four LED bulbs free to poor households
Rs 100 cr under Odisha Millet Mission