The BJP-Shinde-led government will present its first full budget before next year’s general and Assembly elections, on March 9, in a month-long legislative session to be held from February 27 to March 25. Finance Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has invited suggestions from the public and experts to be accommodated in his first budget (for 2023-24) as the in-charge of the department that he has kept with himself.
Next year, the government will not be presenting a full budget but will come out with its interim form, because of the Assembly elections scheduled in the winter. So Fadnavis’s presentation this year holds political importance as it will chart a way ahead of the polls that the BJP wishes to dominate as the single largest party, yet again after 2019.
The Business Advisory Committee of the legislature met on Wednesday to decide the programme. The Opposition demanded at least five weeks, but the government settled for four weeks for the session which will begin with the Governor’s address to the joint session of the lower and upper house. The address will be a viewpoint of the government and its plans for the future.
Governor’s address and row
But considering the consistency of spats between the Opposition and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the joint session isn’t expected to be smooth sailing. Last year, Koshyari left the house without completing his speech, that was interrupted by the ruling coalition’s (MVA) slogan shouting, which was responded to by the then opposition with equal strength.
This time, the next round of a similar match is not completely ruled out. Koshyari has asked to be relieved from Raj Bhavan duty, but he hasn’t been replaced yet. It would be interesting to see if the state gets a new governor before the start of the Budget session.
With an eye on polls
Sources in the government said the state budget was expected to be on the lines of the Union Budget with some local tweaks. Barring general taxation which comes under the GST regime, the state can increase and decrease certain levies/duties and determine a new rate of Value Added Tax on the items that have been excluded from GST.
As per Fadnavis’s thoughts that he expressed in the past, the budget is expected to be the BJP’s economic, social and political statement. It will focus on creating assets, balance the income and expenditure and yet come out with some populist ideas/schemes for the sections of the society that need to be wooed into giving votes for the BJP. The economic sectors, ease to business and investment is also expected to be on top of the agenda because of the competition other investor- friendly states have posed in Maharashtra. And not to forget the Opposition’s outcry over parting of some heavy investment projects, which the government tried to neutralise with some quick investment proposals signed in India and the World Economic Forum in Davos.