State Budget draws some praises and several concerns ; Post Budget Discussion in CYSD

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Budget and Accountability Centre (OBAC) and Orissa Economics Association (OEC) presented an in-depth analysis of Odisha Budget 2020-21 today at the Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD) in Bhubaneswar.
The State Budget 2020-21 is pegged at Rs 1,50,000 crores, which is 11 percent higher than the 2019-20 budget. The total outlay for this year’s budget is proposed to be financed mainly through revenue receipts of Rs1,24,300 crores and borrowing and other receipts of Rs25,700 crores. Experts pointed out that Odisha Government, contrary to the popular perception, is borrowing less than what it could without any threat to sustainability.
The state’s working age population is expected to cross 3 crores in 2021 as per the Odisha Economic Survey 2019-20. Along with the growing demand for creation of employment opportunities, safe housing for all, and making agriculture and allied activities a viable source of livelihood are the stated policy directions and priorities of the state government for financial year 2020-21.
Continuing with the reform in budgetary process, the state government has brought out “e-Budget” to make budget related information mere accessible digitally including through mobile phone application. The government efforts in the domain of budget process reforms also include the publication of a Climate Budget statement to provide information climate related public expenditure, two separate documents for Gender Budget and Child Budget and a separate Nutrition Budget Statement that is the first such special budget statement on nutrition by any state.
However, in Odisha, regional and social disparity in department particularly in the areas of nutrition, health and education continues to be a serious concern. Hence, it is necessary to see how well do these budget monitoring frameworks provide policy directions to the key departments and higher priorities in terms of provisioning of resources the goal of ‘no one is left behind’.
The share of state’s own revenue in total revenue receipts in the state budget has increased by 2 percentage points in this year’s budget. However, stronger effort is required to mobilize revenue from own sources especially when the 15th Finance Commission has introduced the Tax effort as a parameter in the ‘interse’ distribution of states share of central taxes. The conventional sources like state excise duty, motor vehicle tax, VAT from petroleum products and stamp duties and registration fees remain major source of state’s own tax revenue. The tax policy for FY 2020-21 aims to strengthen tax administration by use of information technology, but the budget lacks a holistic for strengthening own source of revenue mobilization.
The 2020-21 state budget allocates only 11% of its total agriculture budget towards all rainfed sensitive schemes, which is a matter of concern considering the climate related risks in the state and doubling farmer’s income.
As the gap between the budget estimates and actual expenditure in FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19 is widening, experts have raised questions on ‘budget credibility’ as well. The gap is more persistent in the major departments related to agriculture and social sectors.
On budget management and scheme implementation front, one of the major challenges could be the huge vacancies in all levels across departments, especially in the social sectors. Despite being a revenue surplus state continuously for over a decade now, Odisha Budget 2020-21 does not have any strategy for filling in vacant positions across departments, which could have not only impressed the quality of program implementation but also served as a growth enhancing intervention through public sector employment creating.
“State share in Cetral taxes and grants in aid from the center contribute as much as 60% of the overall receipts by Odisha and hence any shortfall in that effeecfts the resource avaialability for the budget” said Shri Satyapriya Rath, Joint Secretary, Department of Finance, Govt. of Odisha. He added that “this year, the Finance Department has come up with a dedicated mobile app where people can study the budget details and this year’s budget is prepared following the innovative approach of strategic budget making.”
Shri Vivek Pattnaik, Former Chairperson of the Odisha Public Service Commission said, “We should also prioritize marginal and small farmers and agriculrtural labours since the agriculture is the backbone of our economy”. He added that The government should priorities agro based industries as it opens a lot of employment options for which financial insitutions like IPICOL must be revived.”
Eminent Prof. Bhagabat Patra said, “We have foundational problems as far as education sector is concerned, efficiency oriented government schemes is the need of the hour.” He added that we should also talk about the outcome budgets since it’s very important to know what the budget has resulted in.”
Shri Subrat Das, Executive Director of the Delhi based Center for Budget and Governance Accountability said, “State Budegt needs to give much greater priority to higher education, health and urban sanitation since the Union Budget has not given much resources for these sub-sectors within social sectors.”
“Strengthening the primary education system should be the focus of the government rather investing more on model schools” said Jagadananda, Mentor and co-founder of CYSD. He further added that “Disaster resilient rural infrastructure should be the focus as the state is frequently affected by multiple disasters.” Among others Dr. Sarit Rout, Assistant professor in PHFI, Former AGM NABARD Sarala Das along with representatives from various Civil Society Organisations, academics and neighborhood associations were present in the deliberation. Tapan Mishra, News Editor of The Samaja gave vote of thanks.