UP aims to grow faster than India

Targeting 10% growth over the next five years, the Aditya Nath Yogi government's maiden budget, focused on farmers and the rural population. The targeted growth is well above India's projected growth -7.2% for 2017-18, according to the IMF.

The Rs.3.84 lakh crore budget -10.9% bigger than the previous one -provides Rs.36,000 crore for the farm loan waiver scheme announced by the CM just after taking charge. The government claimed it could arrange for funds for the scheme by checking extravagance and without compromising fiscal discipline. The fiscal deficit of Rs.42,967.86 crore, which is 2.97% of the gross state domestic product, is well below the target of 3% set under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. Delivering the budget speech in the presence of Yogi, state finance minister Rajesh Agarwal said the CM had a long-term vision for the development of the state with an eye on the welfare of the poor, women, weaker sections, farmers, and overall progress of the state. “Our budget represents the aspiration of the 22 crore people of UP,“ Yogi later said.

While it has gone into overdrive to make provisions for farmers and the rural sector, the pressure to fund the loan waiver scheme has forced the government to drop many welfare schemes of the previous government. So, Agarwal's budget is mum on the laptop scheme, Kanya Vidyadhan and pension scheme.

Besides, there is no mention of the Purvanchal Expressway though the BJP government has endorsed the project through a Cabinet decision. The government had also promised to link Bundelkhand with Delhi but has made no provision for it; it expects the Centre to chip in to make it happen. The government has claimed that it has introduced new schemes worth Rs.55,000 crore in the budget, but as much as Rs.36,000 crore out of this amount is earmarked for farmers' debt redemption; that leaves the government with Rs 19,000 crore for new schemes. The state government has focused on cultural activities, making an e-secretariat and free distribution of schoolbags, a pair of shoes and a sweater to students, besides giving a big push to the urban housing schemes funded by the Central government.

Agarwal also said the government proposed to recruit 1.50 lakh policemen and allocate Rs.791.83 crore for scholarships for boys and girls from the minority community. Besides, Rs.100 crore was proposed for distribution of schoolbags, uniforms and books for schoolchildren, Rs.19,444 crore for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rs.2,054 crore is to be spent on midday meals, Rs.551 crore on secondary education, Rs.191 crore on higher education, Rs.52 crore on hostels meant for Other Backward Classes students, and Rs.394 crore on modernisation of recognised madrasas.

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