Union Budget 2018 dampens Kerala's hopes

The Union budget has failed to to enthuse those in Kerala who were expecting big announcements and left critics suspicious about the implementation of various promises.

Published: 02nd February 2018 01:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd February 2018 03:56 AM   |  A+A-

Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley holds a briefcase containing federal budget documents on Thursday. (EPS | Shekhar Yadav)

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Union budget has failed to to enthuse those in Kerala who were expecting big announcements and left critics suspicious about the implementation of various promises.
The biggest disappointment came in the allocation for railways.  

The budget did not have allocations for the Thalassery-Mysuru railway line, Sabari railway line, coach factory and Nemom terminal. There was no mention of the state’s long-pending demand for a suburban service.

“The state has been completely neglected in the budget. Only the fine print can tell detailed allocations for the ongoing rail projects in the state,” said Sajeev Parisavila, president of Southern Railway Passenger Association.The budget failed to cheer households with a meagre fuel subsidy in the wake of rising fuel prices. Kollam MP N K Premachandran said the government had a moral obligation to cut the duty to reduce the people’s burden.

The labour-intensive cashew sector gets a boost with the reduction of import duty of raw cashew from 5 per cent to 2.5 per cent. The state is heavily dependent on imported cashews for processing. A higher import duty had resulted in a shortage of cashew, which led to closure of factories.

The assurance of minimum support price (MSP) for a majority of crops at 1.5 times the cost involved has made farmers happy. But experts have raised doubts about the methods used for calculating the MSP.

A generous allocation of Rs 10,000 crore for fisheries and aquaculture is a positive for the state, a top producer of fish. National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) general secretary T Peter said the funds were mostly directed at fisheries institutions and fishing industry.

“The budget has neglected traditional fishermen. The ground reality of fish workers is that they are still struggling for their livelihood, shelter, education and sustenance after the corporate loot of resources in fishing zones,” he said. The budget focus on future technologies such as machine learning, AI, IoT and 3D printing will be a positive for Kerala, which is making pioneering steps in this direction, said Kerala Startup Mission CEO Saji Gopinath.

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