Taking a leaf out of his predecessor S M Krishna’s book, Karantaka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is planning to present a White Paper on the state’s finances, besides the budget in the planned Assembly session in July.
In his typical no-nonsense FM style, Siddaramaiah also indicated that he has no interest in presenting a separate “Agri-budget” – a populist measure introduced by B S Yeddyurappa in 2008. Besides, he has publicly stated that the size of the budget – D V Sadananda Gowda presented a `1 lakh crore budget – was not of importance.
A Finance Department source told Express: “The Chief Minister may drop several schemes which had been announced by his predecessor (Jagadish Shettar) in the budget earlier this year. He may rejig a few and announce new ones.”
The new budget is likely to spell out how the exchequer will meet the sops announced by Siddaramaiah on the day he took oath as Chief Minister on May 13, including rice at `1 per kg for BPL families and waiver of loans distributed through Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, minorities and Other Backward Class development corporations. The total expenditure on these subsidies is estimated to be `4,400 crore.
Siddaramaiah had said: “The burden to the exchequer will be eased through streamlining the collection of taxes, widening the tax net and minimising tax evasion and pilferage if any.”
Like Krishna, Siddaramaiah will explain the state’s finances through a white paper. Said the Finance Department source: “A white paper does not have any legal or statutory significance, but it will put things into perspective and present the factual position of the state’s finances, how things have been, what the debt position is and so on. It is a form of stock-taking.”
Krishna had presented his white paper in 2000 to indicate the state of finances when he took over from Siddaramaiah as Finance Minister in the Janata Dal Government.
Now, Siddaramaiah is set to let the state know how the BJP Government has left the state treasury over the last five years. Siddaramaiah is likely to get down to the nitty-gritties of budget preparation and details of the white paper soon after the conclusion of the eight-day Assembly session beginning on Wednesday.
A senior Finance Department official said: “We have already conducted a preliminary round of meetings in preparation to present a new budget and brief the Chief Minister.”
Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, meanwhile, has taken exception to Siddaramaiah presenting a new budget. The BJP leader suggested in Gulbarga that “it serves no purpose and he should just present a supplementary budget.”