Rajasthan: Gov’t employees, civil rights groups hail State Budget 2022

Gehlot government gives special attention to jobs, farmers and healthcare

Rajasthan Budget

Rajasthan government employees, who joined on or after January 1, 2004, will be able to avail the old pension scheme, announced Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot while introducing the Financial Budget 2022-23 on February 23, 2022.

With 2023 Assembly elections fast approaching, Gehlot presented a three-hour long budget that focused on employment, healthcare and agriculture. He also addressed the issue of the Centre’s contributory National Pension Scheme (NPS). Government employees criticised the scheme for its limited benefits and restrictive nature compared to other schemes.

Revival of old pension scheme

To the huge relief of these employees Gehlot did away with NPS and reinstated the previous scheme. In a tweet, he said, “We all know that employees associated with government services should feel secure about their future to make their invaluable contribution towards good governance. Therefore, I announce that all employees appointed on January 1, 2004 and after will avail the old pension scheme.”



With this, retired employees will get the full pension instead of the contributory scheme provisions implemented by the Centre during the UPA-led government.

According to The Hindu, after the session, Gehlot said that other states should also think about the NPS. In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh also, the scheme is a major election issue. Further, he withdrew the previous government’s 2017 decision to cut the salaries of employees. He also called for the restoration of the next grade pay system with an annual burden of ₹1,000 cr on the government from the next financial year.

With regard to employment, the Chief Minister also increased the number of promotional posts and extension of benefits under the Seventh Pay Commission to employees of boards, corporations, universities and autonomous bodies.

Indira Gandhi Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme

Another major announcement was the Indira Gandhi Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme that provides employment for 100 days from next year in urban areas. This is similar to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) that guarantees employment in rural areas.

However, unlike the MGNREGS, the new scheme extends to the urban poor, bringing street vendors, dhaba workers, restaurant employees and more under its purview. This will help the economy of those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as well. Gehlot gave it a budget outlay of ₹ 800 cr. Further, it extended MGNREGS’s working days to 125.

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) Founder Nikhil Dey welcomed the decision regarding these schemes. “A welcome contrast to the negative budget of the BJP on employment guarantee,” he said in a tweet.



Focus on farmers

In line with the election mindset, Gehlot spoke about farmers’ issues that have gained widespread attention since the national peasant struggle. He presented the first-ever agriculture budget separately, wherein he raised the budget for Mukhyamantri Krishak Saathi Yojana from ₹2,000 cr to ₹5,000 cr, to implement 11 schemes relating to irrigation, organic farming, seed production, etc. on a mission mode.



Moreover, Gehlot announced a 60 percent subsidy to one lakh farmers to set up solar pumps in the next three years for irrigation. Around ₹ 500 cr will be spent for this. Along with this, SC and ST farmers will receive an additional grant of up to ₹ 45,000. This will benefit about 50,000 SC/ST farmers and ₹ 200 cr will be spent for this, said Gehlot.

According to the New Indian Express, the government will also clear pending 3.38 lakh electricity connections to farmers at a cost of ₹ 6,700 cr. Interest-free crop loans amounting to ₹ 20,000 cr will be distributed and five lakh new farmers will be included.

Regarding healthcare, the budget proposed an increase in the health cover under the cashless Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme from ₹5 lakh to ₹10 lakh per year per family. Government health facilities should avail free-of-cost IPD and OPD services, suggested the Budget. The government will also spend ₹4,500 crore on giving power tariff subsidies to consumers in different slabs, said The Hindu.

To the joy of many civil rights groups campaigning in Rajasthan for a long time, the Budget said a Right to Service Guarantee and Accountability Bill will be brought shortly in the state. The Jawbdehi dharna campaigning for this Bill expressed hope while stating it will continue work until a law is passed.



Gehlot also proposed to conduct the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET) in July following its recent cancellation. In light of the controversy around a leaked question paper, he said an anti-cheating cell will be set up in the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan police.

Meanwhile, the BJP voiced scepticism regarding the announcement, asking how the government will arrange for a sufficient financial source for these provisions. Already, the 200 MLAs received an Apple iPhone–13 each along with copies of budget, said NDTV. The phones would have cost the state government nearly ₹ 1.5 cr. Last year, MLAs received iPads along with the budget.


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