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With an eye on the state polls later in the year, Chhattisgarh government on Saturday doled out a series of fiscal incentives to boost the agriculture and rural sector. The state budget with an outlay of Rs 831.79 billion for the fiscal 2018-19 has increased the allocation of agriculture sector by 29 per cent at Rs 134.8 billion as compared to the previous year. A provision of Rs 21.07 billion has been made for paddy procurement to benefit about 1.4 million farmers. The state government will be giving special stress on irrigation infrastructure and has made a provision of Rs 25.18 billion for major projects. A provision of Rs 92.22 billion has been made for rural development. While a provision of Rs 23.54 billion has been made for the Pradhan Mantra Awas Yojana, a separate rural housing corporation will be set up to expedite the plan.
An amount of Rs 34.27 billion has been allotted for the corporation.“The budget focuses on welfare of farmers, development of agriculture, rural sectors and prosperity of farmers and poor,” Chief Minister Raman Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, said. The hike in the honorarium of Mitanin (health worker), panchayat secretary, kotwar, aaganbadi workers by 20 to 25 per cent is seen as major sop to sway a large section before the elections. While there is a drop of 2 per cent in social sector allocation, attractive insurance and health cover had been included in the provision. The life insurance cover for existing Aam Aadmi bima yojana and Atal khetihar bima yojana has been increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs 400,000, the health insurance cover for senior citizens has been enhanced to Rs 80,000. Despite sops in the pre-election budget, Chhattisgarh government continues to strictly follow the fiscal discipline. The gross fiscal deficit has been estimated at Rs 99 billion, which is 2.96 per cent of the GSDP and within the prescribed limit of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act.