VIJAYAWADA: Faced with an unprecedented economic slump, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy on Tuesday presented a Rs 2.24 lakh crore budget for 2020-21 — 1.4 per cent less than the last fiscal — with the major thrust being on welfare schemes, as expected.
In his own words, the reduced share of the State in the divisible pool of Central taxes and the precipitous decline in revenue realisation due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown have made things difficult so much so that “the adverse conditions would have broken the will of any other government.” Crediting CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy for being firm in the face of adversity, Buggana rolled out a budget, with increased allocations for the government’s flagship welfare schemes — the Navaratnalu — while bringing down expenditure for several other heads.
The estimated revenue deficit is 1.82 per cent of the GSDP or Rs 18,434.14 crore and the fiscal deficit is 4.78 per cent of the GSDP or Rs 48,295.58 crore. The fiscal deficit of 4.78 per cent is perhaps the highest till date and understandably so. The State’s debt burden shot up to Rs 3.02 lakh crore by the beginning of this fiscal year from Rs 2.59 lakh crore a year ago. It is expected to increase to Rs 3.48 lakh crore or 34.55 per cent of the GSDP. The increase in debt corresponds to the shortfall in revenue.
As against the estimated Rs 1.78 lakh crore in 2019-20, the revised estimates show receipts of Rs 1.10 lakh crore — a shortfall of Rs 68,000 crore. Nonetheless, it is expected to go up to Rs 1.61 lakh crore in 2020-21.The Finance Minister, while pegging revenue expenditure at Rs 1.80 lakh crore, projected a capital expenditure of Rs 44,396 crore including loan repayments. He also appeared to be pinning hopes on an increase in Grants-in-aid from the Centre though they did not materialise last fiscal.
BCs, minorities get lion’s share
As against the budgetary estimates Rs 61,07,151.13 lakh in 2019-20, the actual receipts stood at Rs 21,87,595.69 lakh. It is estimated to be Rs 53,17,541.99 lakh in 2020-21. Coming to the budgetary allocations, a whopping 270 per cent increased funding is made for Backward Classes Welfare, up from Rs 7,271.45 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 26,934.82 crore. The revised estimates show Rs 18,986.21 crore was spent on BC Welfare.
Similarly, minorities welfare too received a 115 per cent rise this time from Rs 952.47 crore last fiscal to Rs 2,055.63 crore. Social welfare received a 110 per cent rise with a budgetary allocation of Rs 12,465.85 crore from nearly Rs 6,000 crore last fiscal. Women and child welfare too received a boost with 28.51 per cent increase from Rs 2,689 crore to Rs 3,456 crore.
Kapus’ welfare too was given its due with an allocation of Rs 2,847 crore, a 42.35 per cent growth over the revised estimates last fiscal. The direct cash transfer benefit schemes like Amma Vodi (Rs 6,000 crore), YSR Pension Kanuka (Rs 16,000 crore), Jagananna Vidya Deevena (Rs 3,009 crore) among others received a budgetary allocation of Rs 37,659 crore. For SC and ST welfare, the allocations were increased to Rs 7,525 crore and Rs 1,840 crore respectively.
For health and family welfare, a sum of Rs 11,419 crore has been allocated -- a marginal increase of 0.18 per cent over last fiscal but substantially over Rs 4,000 crores over the revised estimates. But given the COVID-19 situation, one would have hoped further increase in allocation for this sector. However, the allocation for infrastructure and investment went up by 22 per cent. For Agriculture and allied sectors too, the budgetary allocation was down by 35 per cent. Similarly, higher and secondary education received cuts over last fiscal estimates by 12 and 24 % respectively.