Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh (pictured above), who also holds the finance portfolio, on Saturday presented an annual budget of Rs 83,179 crore for the 2018-’19 financial year, providing incentives to the agriculture sector and the rural economy, PTI reported. Chhattisgarh will go to the polls later this year.

“The Budget focuses on welfare of farmers, development of agricultural sector, prosperity of labourers and the poor, female empowerment, welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, rural development, infrastructure and good governance,” the chief minister said.

The state has allocated Rs 13,480 crore for the farm sector, an increase of 29% compared to the allocation made in the previous budget, Singh added. He informed the Assembly that six agricultural colleges would be set up at Jashpur, Korba, Chhuikhadan, Kurud, Gariaband and Mahasamund, and graduates from such colleges would be encouraged to become entrepreneurs with the help of a new scheme called “Chalo Gaun Ki Or [Let’s travel towards the villages]”.

Singh has allocated Rs 9,222 crore for rural development, Business Standard reported, and Rs 2,354 crore has been earmarked for the Pradhan Mantra Awas Yojana. A separate rural housing corporation would be set up to implement the plan, he added.

The Congress criticised the Budget, saying it was a major let-down. “The Budget has left everyone, including farmers, youth, women, labourers and ‘shikshakarmi’ [teachers] disappointed,” state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel said. While the per capita income had increased, the number of poor too shot up from 18 lakh to 59 lakh, he claimed. “It is going to be the last Budget of the BJP government in the state.”