Mumbai: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday termed the budget he presented as all- inclusive and one that does not discriminate against any region as he dismissed the oppositions criticism in this regard.
Pawar, also the finance minister, said the provisions made in the budget, the first by the MVA government, for healthcare, education and agriculture sectors are meant for entire Maharashtra and not for certain regions.
Asked if the budget favoured Mumbai, Konkan and Western Maharashtra regions over Vidarbha, Marathwada and North Maharashtra, Pawar replied in the negative and said there is no need to create confusion on the issue.
There is no regional imbalance. We have made provisions for all farmers, be it from Vidarbha, Marathwada.
"Farmers from all the regions will get one lakh solar pumps every year, Pawar told reporters outside the state legislature building here after presenting the budget.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was also present on the occasion.
Pawar's response came after the opposition BJP said the budget will cause regional imbalance in terms of growth.
"There is nothing new for farmers, youth and women in it...There is nothing in it for Vidarbha, Marathwada and North Maharashtra.
"There is mention about provisions for Konkan region (in the budget). But there is nothing concrete for the region," Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP told reporters outside the legislature building complex.
Healthcare and education provisions cover entire Maharashtra. MLAs funds are for representatives from all the regions. There was no discrimination. We thought of everyone, he added.
Pawar said the Opposition being Opposition will berate the budget, but those who will look at the annual financial statement will definitely find it satisfactory.
"It is a budget of commoners presented by a government of commoners...We will try to ensure how all the announcements made will be realised in the year to come,"the NCP leader said.
He said it was for the first time in the history of the state that the tourism department has been allotted more than Rs 1,000 crore.
Pawar further said the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has increased monetary provisions for encouraging sports culture at the taluka, district and divisional levels.
He said the government aims to set up one womens police station in each of the district.
We have to walk a tight rope. Yet, we have reduced industrial power tariff by 1.8 per cent to encourage industries.
"This will give us Rs 700 crore less revenue, but industries must survive. We have reduced stamp duty in Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nagpur by 1 per cent.
"This will reduce Rs 1,800crore tax in our coffers. But the commoners must be helped, he added.
He said the original budget outlay was expected to be of Rs 3,14,500 crore.
But the government received Rs 8,000 crore less from the Centre despite Thackeray himself visiting Delhi for the funds, Pawar said.
The finance minister also defended the decision to increase MLA fund from Rs 2 crore (declared in 2011) to Rs 3 crore.
"It is increased in view of the increased workload," he added.
Pawar accused the opposition of "misleading" people on the budget.
"The opposition has no ground to criticise us hence they are trying to mislead people. There is no fault in our budget," the finance minister said.
Defending the green cess proposed on petrol and diesel, he said, "We are going to use the fund for protection of the environment and tackle climate change.
"People know climate change and the environment are the real issues. We are not going to misuse or divert the funds anywhere else."
Asked about the farm loan waiver scheme announced by the MVA government, Pawar said, "The new scheme has been formulated after taking into consideration the demands of farmers. The previous government took almost three years to complete the scheme, but we will do it in three months."
Meanwhile, Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil termed the budget as balanced and just towards all the sections.
The Opposition has to give reaction (on budget). They cannot praise the government. Hence, their comments need not be paid attention to, Patil, a former finance minister, told reporters.