PUDUCHERRY: Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy on Monday presented a Rs 10,696.61 crore tax-free budget for the fiscal 2022-'23 which contained announcements including free house site pattas for freedom fighters in the union territory and laptops free of cost for students of standards XI and XII in government and aided schools.
Presenting the budget in the territorial Assembly, he said the administration had decided to provide free house pattas to 260 tyagis (freedom fighters) to mark the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the country`s Independence, conceding their plea.
Among other announcements, the Chief Minister said, "laptops would be distributed free of cost to students of standards XI and XII in government schools and government-aided schools in a phased manner."
Further, he said it was also proposed to re-implement the free bicycle scheme for students studying in standard IX in government and government-aided schools.
The size of the budget for the fiscal 2022-23 was Rs 10,696.61 crore, the Chief Minister said, adding that the Union Territory`s own revenue receipts were estimated at Rs 6,557.23 crore while the Central assistance would be Rs 1,729.77 crore with an additional Rs 20 crore from the Central Road Fund and an allocation of Rs 500 crore under Centrally sponsored schemes (CSS).
Also, the Central government had approved borrowings to the extent of Rs 1,889.61 crore "to help bridge our fiscal deficit," he said during his 75-minute address.
Rangasamy, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said that "the total outstanding debt of the Union Territory as on March 31, 2022 was Rs 9,859.20 crore."
"A major portion of our financial resources goes towards meeting committed expenditure such as salaries, pension, repayment of past loans and interest payments," he added.
The Chief Minister said that out of the budget estimate of Rs 10,696.61 crore for the fiscal 2022-23, a sum of Rs 2,312.77 crore would be allocated for salaries (constituting 21.62 per cent), Rs 1,122.32 crore for pension (10.49 per cent), Rs 2,311.61 crore for debt servicing (21.61 per cent) such as payment of loan and interest and Rs 1,440 crore for purchase of power (13.46 per cent).
"Other major expenditure of the government includes payment of old age pension (assistance to elderly citizens) and other welfare schemes to the tune of Rs 1,400 crore (13.09 per cent), grant in aid to society run higher education institutions, state public sector undertakings, local bodies and cooperative institutions to the extent of Rs 1,333.19 crore (12.46 per cent)," he added.
The Chief Minister also said the expenditure incurred during the previous fiscal year (2021-22) was Rs 9,793.29 crore which worked out to 94.04 per cent of the revised estimates.
After highlighting sector-wise proposals, the Chief Minister said that a National Law University would be established in Puducherry.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to lay the foundation for the university and the necessary site had already been earmarked for the project, he added.
Rangasamy announced that under the MLA Local Area Development Scheme it was proposed to grant Rs 2 crore to each member of the Assembly to undertake basic infrastructure work during the current fiscal year which was welcomed enthusiastically by the legislators.
He announced that steps were being taken to start ferry service between Karaikal port and Kankesanthuri port in Sri Lanka this year.
All posts of lower and upper division clerks and all vacant posts in government departments would be filled before the end of the current year, he said.
After the Chief Minister presented the budget, Speaker R Selvam adjourned the House to meet at 9.30 AM on Tuesday.