Budget of Maharashtra 2023-24 from Social Security Lenses
Social security does not have a concrete global definition as societal situations change from country to country. In general, all the nations across the world implement various kinds of social security provisions or programmes. The intention to implement these measures lies in the fact that life and markets are uncertain and workers’ face losses because of it hence should be helped and protected.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) suggests that social security measures should be provided to the workers against nine types of risks and uncertainty that lead to loss of income and livelihood. Any individual at any point of time can come across these uncertain situations and will be forced to face them without having any backup. Assurance of having social security works as a support system for them.
Maharashtra’s Deputy CM and Finance Minister Devendra Fadnavis presented the ‘Panchamrut’ 2023-2024 budget for the state on Thursday, 2023 March 9.
The budget estimate for 2023-24 is Rs 5,47,450 crore, up from last year’s Rs 4,95,404 crore, focusing on five areas: agriculture; infrastructure; women, tribal and marginalised communities; environment; youth and employment generation.
According to the Economic Survey of Maharashtra 2022-23, the state’s economy in 2022-23 is expected to grow at 6.8% as against 7% of the Indian economy. By comparison, the state economy expanded by 9.1% in 2021-22.
Of the total budget, revenue receipts to the tune of ₹4,49,522 crore in the next fiscal, the revenue expenditure is projected at ₹ 4,65,522 crore, while the revenue deficit of the budget was ₹ 16,112 crore, and the fiscal deficit was ₹95,500.80 crore with a total outlay of ₹ 1,72,000 crore.
Following are the announcements made in the budget that highlight the social security policies, schemes, and programmes extended to multiple areas and strata of the society.
Focusing Females: Income, Education and Security
Maharashtra is the 1st State in India to formulate Women’s Policy in the year 1994. The legacy continues till today as the budget 2023-24 announcements extend their support on every aspect of a life a girl or woman from education, to work, income and security to working and non-working women from formal as well as informal sector.
As part of the Budget 2023-24 Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis announced that 3000 Self-Help Group (SHG) will be formed in 15 districts of Maharashtra to be initiated for uplifting the women from minority communities.
The government has also raised the honorarium for ASHA workers from ₹8,500 to ₹10,000 per month.
Further, a waiver in professional tax for women will be given 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.
For promoting education, the ‘Lek Ladki’ scheme will be started yellow and orange ration card holder families, a subsidy of ₹ 5,000 will be given after birth of a girlchild, ₹ 4,000 in Class 1, ₹ 6,000 in Class 6 and ₹ 8,000 in Class 11. After completing 18 years of age, a cash amount of ₹75,000 will be given to the beneficiary girl.
‘Shakti Sadan’, a new scheme to provide shelter to women in distress, liberated from sexual exploitation or facing domestic violence, will be launched with the assistance of the central government by combining the Swadhar, Ujjwala schemes. The survivors will get shelter, legal aid, medical care and counselling. 50 new Shakti Sadans will be started under the scheme.
Additionally, 50 % concession on ticket fares to women travelling by State-run buses.
Supporting Farmers: Financial Assistance & Insurance
“For increasing the income of farmer, I announce the ‘Namo Shetkari Mahasanman Nidhi’ scheme under which the State government will provide an additional ₹ 6,000 per farmer, apart from ₹6,000 investment support per farmer every year from the Central government,” Mr. Fadnavis said.
As many as 1.15 crore farmer families will benefit from it and the budget proposes that government will bear ₹ 6,900 crore for the same scheme.
Agriculture has become subject to uncertainty because of volatile monsoons and other factors. Considering the volatility, insurance which is nothing but the social security measure that protects farmers against risk of loss of income has been a focus area of this budget.
Under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the farmers can register themselves by paying a fee of just ₹ 1. The crop insurance premium will paid by the government and not farmers, and an annual outlay of ₹ 3,312 crore has been proposed in the budget for implementation of the scheme.
Helping Hand to Persons with Disability
The budget proposed that the definition of ‘Person with Disability’ in the Profession Tax Act to be amended as per definition given in the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 so that more persons with disabilities will become eligible for exemption from payment of Profession Tax.
The Modi Awas Yojana is set to be implemented to construct 1 million budget-friendly homes in the next three years, at a cost of ₹12,000 crore. Out of the total, 300,000 houses are planned to be built in the year 2023-24. Additionally, state-driven Rami Awas Yojana will be promoted to larger extent.
Welfare Boards of Unorganized Sector Workers
For the distribution of benefits to be derived from various schemes to the unorganized sector workers, a separate board of Maharashtra’s Unorganized Labour Welfare Board will be established. Additionally, a welfare board for autorickshaws and taxi drivers will be launched in Maharashtra. These boards or Mahamandals will come under the purview of Maharashtra State OBC & Finance Corporations and would be given financial assistance of ₹ 50 crore each.
Insurance, Healthcare & Elderly
Gopinath Munde Shetkari Accident Insurance Scheme is implemented provide insurance cover to the families of accident-affected farmers, through insurance companies. Under the revised scheme the family of the accident-affected farmers will be given a a grant of up to Rs 2 lakh.
He said the coverage of the Mahatma Phule Jan Arogya scheme, a health insurance scheme of the government, has been raised from ₹1.5 lakh to ₹5 lakh.
The budget has also made a provision for the elderly people and by understanding their medicinal and testing needs, the scheme of VayoShree centers is to be expanded across cities.
Along with these health facilities, the amount of pension provided under the state-government provided pension schemes such as Sanjay Gandhir Niradhar Anudan Yojana and Shravanbal Nivrutti Vetan Yojana has been increased to ₹ 1500 per month. For the same, the government will bear the cost of ₹ 2400 crore.
To ensure the timely payment, it has been announced that intentional efforts will be made to provide the pension by the first week of every month. As most of the pension schemes across India witness a delayed payment. It adversely affects the expenditure cycles of the households. The initiative by the Government of Maharashtra of timely payments of pensions would help the beneficiaries in financially securing themselves.
For example, for 2022-23 the target given by the Central Government of Fiscal deficit as a percentage of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) was 4% and the Government of Maharashtra was able to keep revenue deficit at 0.68% and fiscal deficit at 2.50%, making it the leading state of active social awareness and fiscally responsible.
The efforts undertaken by the State Government of Maharashtra will positively contribute to achieve the last mile delivery and trickle down of fruits of growth and development for all.
Ms. Vaibhavi Pingale is a Visiting Faculty of Economics at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune & at Savitribai Phule Pune University. She is pursuing her PhD. She has been actively writing media articles other than academic research.