BENGALURU: Amid a severe fund crunch and the burden of additional loans, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday presented the State’s first budget post the pandemic impact, with a total outlay of Rs 2,46,207 crore. The budget size is Rs 8,314 crore more than the previous year.
In a first for Karnataka in decades, Yediyurappa presented a revenue-deficit budget with the deficit pegged at Rs 15,133.60 crore for 2021-2022. As reported earlier by The New Indian Express, revised estimates for the fiscal year 2020-21 showed that the pandemic-hit year also is set to end in a revenue deficit of Rs 19,485.84 crore.
Despite increased borrowings, estimated at about Rs 71,462 crore, and revenue receipts expected to be lower than 2020-21 by Rs 7,649 crore, Yediyurappa chose not to increase excise or fuel tax. Karnataka’s GSDP contracted by 2.6 per cent in 2020-21. While agriculture saw 6.4 per cent growth, the industrial and services sectors saw contraction by 5.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent, respectively.
Like last year, the CM clubbed departments under umbrella sectors, instead of making departmental allocation. The highlight of the budget remained Yediyurappa’s special mention of cross-sectoral women-oriented schemes, funds and incentive programmes with a compiled grant of Rs 37,188 crore.
Aimed at commemorating International Women’s Day, Yediyurappa dedicated 18 points in his budget in the form of assurances and schemes for women including Rs 5 crore for Elevate WomEN, a programme to support women entrepreneurs apart from loans up to Rs 2 crore with subsidised interest rate for those in the services sector and concessional bus passes for women garment factory workers among others.
“Despite the distress situation and shortfall in revenue, we have managed all committed expenditures. All existing programmes will also continue,” Yediyurappa said. Incidentally, the budget has also proposed to restart ‘Anugraha’, a flagship scheme of Siddaramaiah. While last year’s budget focused on funds for mutts, Yediyurappa has set aside Rs 500 crore for 16 boards and corporations, while Rs 500 crore will be given to a yet-to-be-established Vokkaliga development board.
The allocation is on par with the Rs 500 crore announced for the Veerashaiva-Lingayat development board, of which Rs 100 crore will be spent this year.While Yediyurappa has committed to speeding up some big-ticket irrigation projects, subsidies and concessions for entrepreneurs and farmers also find prominent mention in the budget. About seven new policies, including on cybersecurity, defence manufacturing, data centres, self-help groups, etc, setting up of two clusters and 12 industrial parks — Plastic park, Food park, Ecotourism park, Tree parks, Signature Business park, Solar park, etc., have been proposed.
“In Karnataka, Rs 5,372 crore has been spent for the management of Covid-19 and 63.59 lakh beneficiaries from different sectors have been given help,” Yediyurappa said while recounting the challenges his government faced during the pandemic.