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Income support to farmers, tax relief for women highlights of Maharashtra Budget

The Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government on Thursday announced a slew of measures including an additional Rs 6,000 annual income support to farmers, crop insurance at rupee 1 and professional tax relief to women, while sticking to fiscal prudence.

Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who presented the Budget for FY24, projected a modest 8% increase in its own tax revenue at Rs 2.98 trillion in FY24. The government would invest Rs 53,058 crore in infrastructure development and Rs 11,658 crore on employment generation.

To boost air travel from Maharashtra, Fadnavis announced the reduction in the tax on aviation turbine fuel from 25% to 18% in Mumbai, Pune and Raigad.

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“The State government will provide an additional amount of Rs 6,000 along with Rs 6,000 per farmer per year from the central government (under PM Kisan) In this way, an amount of Rs 12,000 will be deposited in the farmer’s account every year. This will benefit 11.5 million farmer families. For this, an outlay of Rs 6,900 crore is proposed in 2023-24,” Fadnavis said.

For the Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme, the state would bear the entire insurance premium worth Rs 3,312 crore for the farmers’ share in FY24. The farmers would have to pay a nominal Re 1 at the time of registration.

Among other measures, which sounded like a pre-poll sop, women will be given a 50% discount on ticket fares in Maharashtra State Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses.

“A new scheme – ‘Lek Ladki’ – will be launched for the empowerment of girls. For yellow and orange ration card holder families, a subsidy of Rs 5,000 will be given after the birth of a girl child, followed by Rs 4,000 in (when she is in) Class 1, Rs 6,000 in Class 6 and Rs 8,000 in Class 11. After completing 18 years of age, a cash amount of Rs 75,000 will be given to the beneficiary girl,” Fadnavis said.

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He also announced a waiver in professional tax for women with a monthly salary of up to Rs 25,000. Earlier, women with a salary of more than Rs 10,000 had to pay professional tax.

The state government will keep the fiscal deficit below 3% of the gross state domestic product (GSDP). The deficit for the year 2023- 24 is estimated at Rs 95,501 crore. The state’s revenue deficit will remain below 1% of the GDP in FY24, he said.

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