After all the drama and controversy that accompanied the build-up to Chief Minister Kumaraswmy’s budget, the actual announcement held a very little surprise. Any budget presented by a government immediately after an election will invariably aim at implementing the election manifesto of the ruling party. The CM announced the waiver of crop loans to the tune of Rs 2 lakh, requiring a budget allotment of Rs 34,000 crore. The CM thus would unequivocally claim that he has fulfilled the promise made to the electorate.
But, any Chief Minister Kumaraswmy’s budget needs to have a salutary impact in terms of not merely solving a past problem but anticipating a future challenge. This budget provides little indication of any tangible effort to address rural/agricultural distress.
Keeping in mind the fact that this is a coalition government, the Chief Minister has held out the assurance that the range of ‘Bhagya schemes’ initiated by the previous government would continue. It would be interesting to see how the Congress responds to the reduction in the quantity of rice per family under the Anna Bhagya scheme. The focus on rural Karnataka is writ large in the budgetary provisions.
There is very little in the budget for the upper and middle classes. While the proposed enhancement in taxes on fuel will directly impact the more affluent sections of society, its indirect impact will be felt by all. Streamlining the administration to ensure maximum revenue mobilization does not seem to have got the attention it deserves. Year after year the revised estimates and actual revenues collected are indicative of the yawning gap between projected revenues and the actuals. And, there seems to be no serious effort to prune government expenditure.
Finally, a budget is a progressive instrument that should focus on growth and development. While loan waiver is the centrepiece of the budget, a positive impetus to agricultural growth in particular and providing the momentum for economic development are largely missing. One also would need to wait and watch how the government actually implements the different provisions. While the schemes and waivers may be critical, the road map for their implementation is as important.
Amount of rice given free-of-cost in Anna Bhagya scheme reduced from 7 kg to 5 kg per person
Mathrushree Scheme provides a total allowance of D6,000 — D1,000 per month for three months before delivery and for three months after delivery to mothers of Below Poverty Line families
D5 crore has been provided for setting up an ‘Alternative Packing Technology Development Institute’
42 Air quality Monitoring Stations will be set up to control and monitor the rising air pollution