West Bengal finance minister Chandrima Bhattacharya tabled the Rs 3.39 lakh crore budget for 2023-24 in the state assembly on Wednesday. Presenting the budget, the minister said that the state’s GDP was projected to grow at 8.4 per cent in the current fiscal.
“I propose to provide a Rs 3,39,162-crore budget for the financial year 2023-24,” Bhattacharya said in the assembly. The budget speech included sops for farmers, entrepreneurs, fishermen and tea gardens ahead of panchayat elections to be held later this year.
The biggest announcement however came in as a relief to the state government employees, as she announced a hike in dearness allowance (DA) for state government employees and pensioners by 3 per cent.
Aiming at supporting startups and MSMEs in the state to generate more employment opportunities, the budget announced ‘Bhavishyat Credit Card’, under which 2 lakh youth will be provided Rs 5 lakh loan to set up micro-enterprises and create employment opportunities.
A special project, ‘Rastashree’, was announced to build around 11,500 km of rural roads and waive the agricultural income tax on tea gardens for the next two financial years.
The minister also announced the upcoming West Bengal Logistics Policy 2023, that will leverage the state’s strategic position at the crossroads of South Asia and ASEAN nations to create a global logistics hub. “It will streamline the sector and help Bengal to secure a strategic position in the global supply chain,” Bhattacharya said.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee praised the budget, underlining that it was aimed at generating employment. “Despite discrimination by the Centre, this state budget has tried to help all sections of the state. This budget is targeted towards the farmers and youth and is aimed towards employment generation,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in the assembly.