A development-oriented, realistic budget on cards

A development-oriented, realistic budget on cards

When Finance Minister K M Mani presents his 11th budget keeping in check the revenue deficit of the state, he is expected to utilise a major chunk of an estimated total plan outlay of Rs 17,404 crore for the year 2013-14 for various development activities.

In 2012-`13, of the total plan funds of Rs 14,010 crore, till December last, Rs 5,287.81 crore has been spent. The total utilisation is expected to cross 90 per cent by the end of the fiscal. ‘’The budget 2013-14 will be a development-oriented budget and it will be realistic at the same time, Mani told ‘Express’ on Thursday. ‘’The welfare of the needy sections among the masses will be addressed positively,’’ he added. The primary sector, including agriculture and allied activities, is again expected to get a big push in the budget. To promote value-added products out of various agriculture produces, rice bio-park and coconut bio-park may again find mention in the budget and more support for farmers to set  up poly houses and promote precision-farming techniques are also on the cards.

KSEB, which is struggling to deal with the grim power scenario in the state, and KSRTC, which is passing through a tough time with Centre deciding to lift diesel subsidy to the state transport utility, are  expecting Mani to be a saviour with some specific provisions in the budget. Funds for bringing in latest technology to tap solar energy and other non-conventional sources is expected to brighten the budget.

In the infrastructure development front, the ambitious mega projects of  Kerala such as Kochi Metro Rail, High Speed Rail Corridor, Kozhikode and Thiruvanathapuram monorail and Vizhinjam International Transshipment terminal are poised to get their share from the Finance Minister.

In the taxation front, additional resource mobilisation through restructuring of the direct taxes structure and increase in luxury tax may be on the anvil. ‘’Every attempt is being made to keep the revenue deficit at the minimum. The Centre should also come to the aid of the state considering the fact that Kerala is a consumer state with its own unique features,’’ the Finance Minister said.

During the current year, the Non-Plan Revenue expenditure of the state has increased by 30 per cent over the previous year. Salaries, pension and interest constitute the lion’s share of the non-plan expenditure. In the scenario, it is learnt that increasing pension age will not be part of Finance Ministers agenda, though there is tremendous pressure upon him to raise the age of at least college teachers. The budget will continue to propel measures to enhance initiatives in last year’s pet projects, including the Entrepreneurship Development Mission. Higher allocations giving priority to agriculture, hill area development, backward-minority classes’ and women’s welfare are also in the pipeline. In addition, the allocation for sectors such as IT, dairy development, tourism and health may be higher than last year’s allocation.

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