West Bengal Government presents ₹3.7 lakh crore Budget

West Bengal Budget

West Bengal Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya on Thursday presented the State budget for the financial year 2024-25, announcing various programmes and schemes for social welfare, employment generation and developing new infrastructure.

In the latest budgetary announcement, West Bengal’s fiscal deficit surged to Rs 68,250 crore for the fiscal year 2024-25, marking a significant increase of almost 37% from the previous fiscal year’s deficit of Rs 49,966 crore in 2022-23. Despite this financial challenge, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in the state revealed ambitious plans to introduce new welfare initiatives and augment incentives for existing schemes, particularly targeting women, youth, and various societal segments.

Finance Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya, in her budget speech, highlighted the groundbreaking success of the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme, benefiting 2.11 crore women and disbursing Rs. 10,101.87 crore in the fiscal year 2023-24. The augmented financial support will be disbursed through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), starting April 2024, with beneficiaries receiving it in early May 2024.

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Under the revamped schemes, the monthly stipend provided by the Lakshmir Bhandar program, aimed at extending financial support to women, witnesses a substantial boost. Monthly allowances for the general category have surged from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000, while for the SCs/ST communities, it has increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200. This enhancement necessitates an additional allocation of Rs 12,000 crore in the budget.

Moreover, the government introduced a novel scheme, Samudra Sathi, designed to provide financial aid of Rs. 5,000 per month for two months to registered fishermen in three coastal districts of Purba Medinipur, North 24 Parganas, and South 24 Parganas. Approximately 2 lakh fishermen are expected to benefit from this initiative, with a budget allocation of Rs 200 crore earmarked for its implementation.

She said the State government has been at the forefront of ensuring wellbeing of its women and children through various schemes like Lakshmir Bhandar, Rupashree Prakalpa, Kanyashree Prakalpa, Old-Age pension, Widow and Disability pension schemes, and others. “Recently an additional 13 lakh applications for Lakshmir Bhandar, 9 lakh for Old Age Pension and 1.04 lakh for Widow Pension were received in Duare Sarkar and through the Sarasori Mukhyamantri campaign,” she added.

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