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.

Bhattacharya, however, alleged that the Central Government continued to deny the state’s rights in a federal polity by depriving the citizens of their entitlements. “Under very important rural development programmes such as MGNREGA, Prime Minister Awas Yojna and Prime Minister Grameen Sadak Yojna, and also under other important development programmes like National Health Mission, 15th Finance Commission and Food Subsidies, the Central Government has immorally withheld our due money,” she said, adding in total, the state has a due amount of ₹1.18 lakh crore from the Centre.

‘Lakhsmir Bhandar’

Tabling a budget of ₹3.4 lakh crore, the minister said the monthly financial assistance under the ‘Lakhsmir Bhandar’ scheme has been raised to ₹1,200 for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities, whereas for other categories, it has been increased to ₹1,000.

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 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 Sarasori Mukhyamantri campaign,” she added.

Dearness allowance

The Minister also announced an additional 4 per cent dearness allowance (DA) for State government employees from May, in addition to the 4 per cent that was declared in January.

N. G. Khaitan, President, Bharat Chamber of Commerce, said the finance minister needed to be congratulated for presenting a “fairly balanced” Budget which aimed at connecting with global players and generating new infrastructure, preserving the existing infrastructure, boosting exports as well as agricultural productivity of the state, skill development, greater emphasis on social security and employment generation and ensuring transparent governance.