BENGALURU: Presenting his record 13th budget in all and the 6th of the present Congress government on Friday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is set to attain one more distinction as the budget size is set to cross the Rs 2 lakh crore mark. Siddaramaiah is said to have prepared a Rs 2.20 lakh crore budget for 2018-19 to spread the 'feel good factor' among every segment of the society to help him pass the poll test to be held this summer.
Siddaramaiah, who has carved a niche for himself with his freebee-oriented budgets so far with greater accent on welfare-based economics, is expected to turn more liberal to reap electoral dividends in the forthcoming assembly election. However, if a new government assumes office after the assembly election, it would not have any constitutional obligations to adhere to the announcements.
Apart from ensuring liberal grants for the already existing 'Bhagya' schemes, the Chief Minister is set to add a few more, including the 'Vasthra Bhagya,' scheme for free distribution of a pair of dhoti and saree for men and women of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families once a year.
Agriculture and allied sector will receive top priority as expected. According to sources, the budget is likely to incorporate some of the recommendations of the report submitted by Agriculture Price Commission headed by Prakash Kammardi. Farmers' representatives who had a long pre-budget meeting with the Chief Minister too are optimistic of a few positive gestures.
"We have reason believe that the Chief Minister will announce drastic changes in the system of fixing minimum support price (MSP) for agriculture commodities, bring perishable commodities like tomato, onion, potato and green chillies also under MSP system and announce interest-free loans for women who venture into agriculture allied activities like dairy farming, sheep rearing, vermicompost," Kuruburu Shantha Kumar, President of Raitha Sangha, who led the farmers' delegation in pre-budget meeting with the Chief Minister told Express.
According to sources in Commerce and Industries department, there is high possibility of Siddaramaiah fulfilling the long-pending demand to abolish Trade License system in the election-oriented budget.
K Ravi, president of FKCCI expressed confidence that the budget will include liberal incentives for manufacturing sector in new age technologies like Internet of things, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
The big thrust for social welfare programmes would continue. The incentive to encourage inter-caste marriages with SC/ST communities is expected to be raised to Rs3 lakh from the existing Rs2 lakh. The present scheme of extending financial assistance for studying abroad for 100 Backward Community students annually is expected to be extended to 200 students annually.
The challenge to mobilise resources to implement the budget proposals will compel Siddaramaiah to make the tipplers of the medium and higher price segment to bear additional burden as the Excise target is set to cross the Rs 20,000cr mark in the budget from the current target of Rs 18,050cr.