Andhra Pradesh Budget: Lion’s share for welfare schemes

Welfare-oriented budget with an outlay of Rs 2.79 lakh cr for 2023-24, state’s own tax revenue estimated to cross Rs 1 lakh crore, Rs 54,228 crore allocated for 21 Direct Benefit Transfer schemes.
Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy presenting the State Budget for the financial year 2023-24
Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy presenting the State Budget for the financial year 2023-24

VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy on Thursday presented a welfare-oriented State Budget for the financial year 2023-24 with an outlay of Rs 2.79 lakh crore as against Rs 2.56 lakh crore last fiscal year.

The AP govt has allocated the lion’s share of the budget—Rs 54,228 crore of the total Rs 2,79,279 crore—to beneficiaries of 21 welfare schemes through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) with a major chunk going to the YSR Pension Kanuka (Rs 21,435 crore). There is an overall increase of 10 per cent in the welfare schemes disbursed through DBT.

Buggana presented the State Budget for 2023-24 with revenue expenditure estimated at Rs 2,28,540 crore and capital expenditure Rs 31,061 crore. The estimated revenue deficit is around Rs 22,316 crore, which will be around 1.54% of the GSDP and the fiscal deficit is estimated at Rs 54,587 crore coming to 3.77 % of the GSDP. The revenue deficit and fiscal deficit, as per the revised estimates for 2022-23, was put at  2.21 % and 3.62 % of the GSDP respectively.

Buggana’s budget presented a picture of optimism as it predicted an increase in its revenue resources. The government is expecting an increase in its revenue receipts, which is pegged at Rs 2.06 lakh crore over the previous year realised revenues of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Of this, the State’s own tax revenue is estimated to be a little more than 1 lakh crore as against the Rs 84,000 crore generated in the last fiscal year indicating that the government is anticipating an upward trend in the revenue collections of the State.

With the State government failing to realise the grants-in-aid that it expected in the 2022-23 fiscal, it has pegged the grants at Rs 46,378 crore only against the last fiscal Rs 56,033 crore, of which it may get only Rs 47,000-odd crore. However, there was no mention of off-market borrowings against Corporations.

Keeping its interests in mind ahead of the Assembly polls scheduled just next year, the government has prioritised allocations to welfare sector with YSR Pension Kanuka and other schemes getting a major chunk of allocation followed by education, medical and health sectors.

The State government has put emphasis on medical and health sectors post the pandemic and has been bringing medical facilities to the people at affordable prices. More than 15,000 crore has been allocated for the medical and health sector. The BC welfare department has been allocated Rs 38,605 crore with an increase of 32.5 % allocation over the last fiscal’s Rs 29,000-odd crore.

Similarly, the government has put emphasis on capital expenditure amid criticism that it has not been investing on asset creation. It has allocated over Rs 31,000 crore as against the less than Rs 16,000 crore it spent in the last fiscal.The most contentious part of the State’s economic situation, the public debt, is likely to be increased to Rs 4.83 lakh crore, which comes to 33.32 % of the GSDP.

Andhra govt focuses on eradicating poverty: FM

The State borrowed Rs 5,500 crore from the Centre as loans and repaid Rs 1,928 crore during the period and is expected to get more than Rs 6,500 crore during this fiscal taking the outstanding debts to Rs 26,296 crore.Buggana said that during 2018-19, the State ranked 22nd in the country with respect to growth of GSDP at constant prices. “Owing to the policies of our Government, the State economy got the necessary impetus, driving both investments and consumption. As a result, Andhra Pradesh ranked first in the country in terms of growth of GDSP at constant prices for the year 2021-22, registering a healthy growth rate of 11.43%,’’ he asserted.

Buggana attributed this to the support provided by the government during the pandemic providing resilience to the State economy and enabled to register the highest growth rate in the last five years. “It also shows that while the commitments of the government have been met under extremely challenging circumstances, the government has prioritised and safeguarded the financial stability and growth prospects of the State,’’ he said.

Buggana, who picked up quotes of Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda to highlight the priority given to various priority sectors by his government, said that the aim of the government is to eradicate poverty, provide health care and ensure prosperity to all. While concluding his speech, Buggana said, “Our destination is holistic development of our State through the inclusive role of the people. Our desire is to demonstrate to the world that empowered people of our State drive sustainable development.’’

Throughout his address, Buggana minced no words in taking a dig at the previous TDP government for meagre allocations to priority sectors and neglect towards farmers, women welfare, irrigation and other sectors. The TDP, however, sought to know as to why there was no increase in the government revenues despite rise in the growth rate.

“How could the government expect an increase in revenue without increasing the capital expenditure. Though the government claimed allocation of lakhs of crores of rupees for development in the Budget, it was not visible in reality,’’ TDP MLA and Public Accounts Committee chairman Payyavula Keshav questioned. Earlier, the TDP members were suspended from the House well before Buggana started the Budget speech for disrupting the proceedings.

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