LG projects J&K’s requirements for 2023-24 budget as Sitharaman holds discussions

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today held pre-budget discussions with Finance Ministers of all States and Union Territories (with Legislature) in New Delhi to take their inputs and suggestions for upcoming Union budget of 2023-24 which is likely to be present in the Parliament in February next.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha represented Jammu and Kashmir in the meeting as there is no elected Government in the Union Territory and kept his view point on requirements for the UT in the next financial year’s budget.

Along with Sitharaman, Union Ministers of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary and Dr Bhagwat Karad, DEA Secretary Ajay Seth, Secretary (designate) DoR Dr Anantha Nageswaran and senior officials of the Finance Ministry also attended the meeting.
While there was no official word on the meeting from Jammu and Kashmir Government, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is understood to have presented in details the demands and requirements of the Union Territory and expectations from the Finance Ministry in the next year’s budget.

In the current financial year i.e. 2022-23 annual budget, Jammu and Kashmir was allocated Rs 1,12,950 crore and this was for the second straight time that the UT budget had crossed Rs one lakh crore. For next fiscal year of 2023-24, Jammu and Kashmir is expecting significant increase in the budget.

“The budget could even touch Rs 1.20 lakh crore,” the officials said but added that the Union Finance Minister and his Ministry officials will hold more meetings with officials of Jammu and Kashmir including those dealing with the Finance Department before taking a call on the total budgetary allocations.

Meanwhile, the Central Government today released Rs 208 crore worth GST compensation for Jammu and Kashmir.

The Central Government released a total amount of Rs. 17,000 crore to States/UTs today towards the balance GST compensation for the period April to June, 2022. The total amount of compensation released to the States/UTs so far, including today’s amount, during the year 2022-23 is Rs1,15,662 crore.

“This is despite the fact that total Cess collection till October, 2022 is only Rs.72,147 crore and the balance of Rs. 43,515 crore is being released by the Centre from its own resources. With this release, the Centre has released, in advance, the entire amount of Cess estimated to be collected this year till March-end available for payment of compensation to States/UTs. This decision was taken to assist the States in managing their resources and ensuring that their programmes especially the expenditure on capital is carried out successfully during the financial year,” the officials said.

Even in May this year, the Central Government had released Rs. 86,912 crore as provisional GST compensation to States for the period Feb-May 2022 despite the fact that there was only about Rs 25,000 crore in the GST Compensation Fund, by making arrangement of funds of around Rs. 62,000 crore from its own resources.

Jammu and Kashmir administration has conducted series of meetings with almost all departments to ascertain their requirements for the next year’s budget. Some of the major requirements will be incorporated in the budget. More such meetings could be held depending upon the budgetary needs.

The administration is also reviewing regularly the budgetary expenditure for current financial year of 2022-23 by various departments in the Union Territory. Next year’s budget also depends on utilization of current year’s budgetary allocations, the officials said.
During last three-four years, Jammu and Kashmir has been getting hefty grants in the budget as well as other Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) and Prime Minister’s Development Plan (PMDP) leading to acceleration of developmental works including major projects.

Besides Jammu and Kashmir has also received good funding in National Highways, major roads, tunnels, water supply schemes and other projects with a view to improve road connectivity including in the rural areas.

Allocations under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes and PMDP for next financial year of 2023-24 will also be reflected in the budget.

It may be mentioned here that Jammu and Kashmir’s budget for current financial year was presented in the Parliament by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in March. Next year’s budget is also likely to be presented in the Parliament as there are no chances of Assembly elections being held till March 2023 as it is mandatory to get the budget passed before March 31.