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FINANCE MINISTER DILIP WALSE PATIL PRESENTS MAIDEN BUDGET

assembly-Finance Minister Dilip Walse Patil presented the state budget that was presented earlier as the interim budget in lieu of the Lok Sabha elections. As the state budget session began, State Finance Minister Dilip Valse Patil had reasons to be worried. Falling tax revenues, a slowing economy and rising expectations of the electorate ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election weighed heavily on his mind as he geared up on his office when to present the full-fledged budget. It also reflected in his statements when he spoke to the media prior to presenting his budget. On the D Day, the Finance Minister Dilip Valse Patil’s maiden Budget for 2009-10 rolled out a slew of measures for farmers, lower income groups, tribals and almost every segment which could return the favour during the elections, even as the Economic Survey projects the state’s debt to shoot up to Rs 1, 58, 520 Crore in 2008-09, as compared to Rs 97,674 crore in 2003-04. Not surprisingly, the opposition called the Dilip Walse Patil’s maiden budget a complete eye wash stating that the state will not have time to implement any of the schemes it announced. Among the major sops is a waiver of debt sanctioned by all state-owned welfare corporations which come under the social justice department. This measure alone will cost the state around Rs 1,100 crore. The sops for farmers, minorities, tribals and lower rung government employees bear in mind the fact that these are sections that participate in elections in larger numbers and the Congress-NCP hopes to reap the benefits of this populist budget. On the revenue generation side, the budget takes refuge in old tricks like raising taxes on commodities which may not severely impact low income groups and the weaker sections. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said that the budget was not a populist one and that the ruling front will come back to power to implement this budget as promised. However, there is not doubt that the state budget 2009-10 reflects the sorry state of Maharashtra’s finances, as pointed out by the economic survey, and sets modest targets for the current fiscal. Its new budget compels one to think that though Maharashtra may be groaning under a mountain of debt, but with elections due in three months, it’s the votes that count. The Shiv Sena and BJP created uproar in the state assembly on the first day of the monsoon session over the Ram Pradhan committee report submitted last week to the state government. The opposition demanded probe into the bullet proof vests file that disappeared from the Mumbai Police HQ alleging corruption in the deal. This is leader of the Opposition Ramdas Kadam adding a dash of drama to the proceedings by flaunting a UK-made bulletproof jacket. Ramdas Kadam accused the home department of providing the police with inferior jackets during the 26/11 terror attacks.’ He demanded that the purchase of bullet-proof jackets should be probed by a high court judge. Sena-BJP MLAs raised anti-government slogans because the saffron partners did not seem to want to lose an opportunity to embarrass the state government on the 26/11 attacks, an emotional issue for the saffron-combine voters in Mumbai. Ramdas Kadam informed the media that file pertaining to the purchase of jackets was untraceable. The jacket purchased were of poor quality and the state bought them for Rs. 80000 though the international price of the jackets is less than half of this. He said that the opposition has been demanding that the senior officials of the state police force be pit behind bars for this alleged corruption that led to the death of three top Mumbai cops. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan led NCP Congress combine however refused to give in to the opposition stating that there was no truth in it. On the question of the files going missing, the Chief Minister said that it was a state rule that record older than 5 years were burnt. On the issue of investigations of poor quality jackets, he said that if the opposition gave him proof, he’d enquire the matter. Prior to this statement to the media, the Chief Minister had said the same thing inside the house to which, the Opposition Leader Ramdas Kadam had given another dramatic response of submitting proof of every allegation that the opposition was making.

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