With the economy still recovering from a Covid-hit year, the Budget presented by the BJP-JJP government in Haryana has preferred to roll out a slew of welfare measures to cushion the impact of the pandemic. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who also holds the finance portfolio, has refrained from going in for stiff measures, imposing no new taxes, while retaining the focus on the agriculture sector that withstood the Covid shock, contributing to food security and a higher growth trajectory. The outlay for agriculture has registered an increase over the last fiscal amid the ongoing agitation at Delhi’s borders over the farm laws enacted by the Centre. Though a section of Punjab MLAs heckled Khattar, demanding that the Haryana Assembly pass a resolution against the Central laws, the BJP-JJP government held its ground.
The largesse entails revenue deficit which the government intends to offset through borrowings, but ways will have to be found for generating additional revenue to meet the shortfall and attract investments. The government plans to spend big on education and social security, increasing the reach and range of various schemes, so as to be inclusive and give a fillip to the health sector by setting up new medical colleges, mostly in the hinterland of the state. Agriculture and industry have been a priority for Haryana and the state plans to set up a reserve fund by way of capital investment for expenditure on big-ticket projects. But the economy will also require inclusivity for reviving trade and commerce, still wilting under the impact of Covid-19, with tourism and hospitality sectors taking a major blow. While a Global City is being planned at Manesar, cities like Gurugram, Faridabad and Sonepat need to get their act together in the wake of disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The Khattar government plans to spend Rs 100 crore on reviving the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal. The announcement in itself is not new and also involves its neighbouring states with political implications with which it will have to contend warily.