Yogi govt unveils big ticket Budget, chases USD 1 trn economy dream

Keeping in mind 2024 general elections for Lok Sabha, the core focus in the UP Budget 2023-24 is on cultural nationalism providing funds for ‘Mahakumbh’ at Prayagraj and development of religious tourism infrastructure in Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi, writes Mudit Mathur

The resolve of Yogi Adityanath-led government to showcase Uttar Pradesh on global platform as ‘growth engine’of India – with India’s most populous state aiming to become one trillion-US Dollar economy by 2027. The committed policies virtually reflected in its recently tabled budget proposals of Rs 6,90,242.43 crore for 2023-2024 to set the growth of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at the estimated 19 percent. Infrastructure projects and development of pilgrimage centres to be the main thrust areas of the government to materialise the investment proposals at the UP Global Investment Summit. An amount of Rs 32,000 crore has been earmarked for new schemes besides about Rs 7,500 crore have been allocated to the social security sector.

Keeping in mind the 2024 general elections for the Lok Sabha, the core focus in the Budget was on cultural nationalism providing funds for ‘Mahakumbh’ at Prayagraj and development of religious tourism infrastructure in Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi. In view of the possible increase in the number of tourists as a result of the construction of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya, the work of widening and beautification of three access roads has also been financed.  Ayodhya will be developed as a “Model solar city”.

The UP Budget 2023-24 includes a significant statement about the upcoming ‘Maha Kumbh’ in 2025. CM Yogi noted that a provision of Rs 400 crores has been made in the budget for 1,000 new buses of the Transport Corporation, with an additional allocation of 100 crores for the bus station, in light of the biggest cultural religious congregation of the world. The budget proposed Rs 1,000 crore for the development of  ‘Dharmarth Marg’ (roads to religious places).

Yogi government has made huge allocation of Rs 21,159 crore for infrastructural development for the construction of roads and bridges, and Rs 6,209 crore for their maintenance have also been provided. It may pave the way to materialise proposals of investments as committed in the recently held Global Investors Summit 2023 in Lucknow wherein UP garnered investment proposals of Rs 33.50 trillion from 19,000 domestic and foreign investors including corporate business groups across sectors, including roads.

Budgetary provisions of Rs 585 crore and Rs 465 crore have been made for the Kanpur and Agra metro rail projects, respectively. Over Rs 1,306 crore has been allocated for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Corridor Regional Rapid Transit System project in the coming financial year. The government will also spend Rs 100 crore for the implementation of metro rail projects in Varanasi, Gorakhpur and some other cities.

A provision of Rs 235 crore has been made in the state Budget for the initial phase of new expressway projects: Jhansi Link Expressway and Chitrakoot Link Expressway. The state will invest Rs 3,000 crore for the development of new cities and urban centres in 2023-24 as well.

“In line with the vision of prime minister Narendra Modi, it is the biggest outlay in the state’s history. This budget was for ‘Atmanirbhar’ Uttar Pradesh. It will prove to be a landmark for making the state’s economy USD 1 trillion in the next five years,” Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, adding that in the past six years, the government ensured ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas, sabka prayas’ (Together, for everyone’s development with trust and effort). “Today we have presented the first budget of ‘Amrit Kaal’. This budget will help us achieve overall development and take the state towards becoming self-reliant,” he hoped.

“We have presented a budget of more than 6 lakh 90 thousand crore rupees. The budget has doubled in the last six years and the per capita income which has doubled shows the commitment of the double-engine government to expand the economy,” Yogi said,briefing the mediapersons soon after tabling of budget in the state Assembly by Finance Minister Suresh Khanna.

“UP is a revenue surplus state since we have not only increased the tax net but taken effective steps to curb tax evasion. Without imposing any additional tax on the public, we reduced the excise duty tax on petrol and diesel. Giving relief to the public from inflation, we did not increase VAT. Petrol-diesel within the state is cheaper than any other state of the country,” CM Yogi claimed, adding that his government had adhered to the fiscal discipline while drafting the budget and conforming to the norms of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act by taming fiscal deficit to Rs 84,883 crore, which is 3.48 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), a healthy sign of financial management.

State Finance Minister Suresh Khanna, in his speech, pegged the total Budget size at Rs 6.90 lakh crore. The total expenditure of Rs 6.90 trillion comprises revenue and capital component of Rs 5.02 lakh crores and Rs 1.87 lakh crores, respectively. In 2022-23, the state’s Budget estimate was at Rs 6.15 lakh crore. State GDP increased by 16.8% during Yogi Adityanath’s second term, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.2%. For the financial year 2023-24, the nominal rate of increase in Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is estimated at 19 percent, said Khanna, adding that the state’s growth rate is encouraging in an era of probable global recession.

Among major budgetary allocations, the state allocated Rs 25,350 crore for Jal Jeevan Mission, hoping that all households would be covered with tap drinking water. Last year’s allocation was Rs 19,500 crore. The UP Tourism Policy envisaged Rs 10 lakh crores investment target for the next 5 years with expectation of creation of about 20,000 jobs in the next 5 years.

The National Rural Health Mission has been allocated Rs 12631 crores to take care of rural health network. Swami Vivekananda Youth Empowerment Scheme has been allocated Rs. 3600 to provide tablets/smartphones to eligible students. Pension schemes for old age people and farmers will get Rs 7248 crores whereas Divyang Pension scheme got allocation of Rs 1120 crores. Chief Minister Kanya Sumangala Yojana has been allocated Rs 1050 crores.

On the infrastructure front, the finance minister made a proposal of over Rs 21,159 crore for the construction of roads and bridges, and Rs 6,209 crore for their maintenance. Khanna said that Rs 3,473 crore is proposed for the work of bridges and roads for agricultural marketing facilities and Rs 1,525 crore for roads in rural areas.

Enthusiastic over the success of proactive initiatives of his government making road shows in 16 countries and 21 cities showcasing investment -friendly liberal policies and overall atmosphere of law and order, the chief minister Yogi Adityanath geared up to pave the way for ground breaking ceremonies by the August 2023.

The Global Investors Summit 2023 inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10th February that fetched MOU of about 33.50 lakh crores, out of which projects worth Rs 21.25 trillion across private, public, and public private partnership (PPP) domains are lined up for an early launch. The chief minister has directed officials to host a mega ground-breaking ceremony in the next six months to launch the first tranche of GIS projects. The remaining projects would be launched in the successive rounds of the ceremony.

Indian conglomerates, who have committed to invest in UP as part of the GIS, include Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries, Chairman N Chandrasekaran of Tata Group, Chairman Kumarmangalam Birla of Aditya Birla Group, JK Group, etc, while global corporations betting on the state are Zurich Airport Asia, Lulu Group, Seiko Advance, One World Corporation, Boson Energy, Embraer, Geothermal Core among others. Gautam Adani did not attended the Summit but the group has committed to setting up four cement plants in the state, with the ground work on a proposed cement plant in Sonbhadra district already under way of commissioning.