THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:The state’s aspirations from the Mumbai-Thiruvananthapuram industrial corridor to the Technology Diffusion Fund, to boost farm productivity, apart from the desperately needed increase in import duty on natural rubber will not get the desired representation in the Union Budget to be presented on Saturday, feels many experts.
The pessimistic attitude is due to the incessant neglect faced by the state in the previous budgets, especially the last one of the UPA-II and the maiden budget of the present BJP Government.
Experts said that there was limit for the Centre to raise the import duty on rubber based on the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) agreement. So even if the import duty on rubber is raised, it will not be up to the level expected by the state which is adversely hit by the sharp decline in the price of the plantation crop.
“Though rubber growers had been demanding as high as a 75 per cent hike, the chance is to increase it from the current 20 per cent to 30 per cent,” an expert said, on conditions of anonymity.
“The Asean agreement will not permit the government to go for too big a hike in favour of the rubber farmers. Decision at the international-level is needed to increase the import duty beyond a limit,” opined Centre for Development Studies faculty K N Harilal. “But no budget can be worse for the state other than the one presented by the UPA-II,” he said.
At present, the political condition is more critical as the BJP has no representative from the state which prompts some to think that the budget will not have much for the state. “In the maiden budget of the BJP government, assistance for rubber farmers did not get attention. For obvious political reasons, the state cannot expect more,” State Finance Commission chairman B Alwin Prakash said.
Being a service-oriented but consumer state with only small and medium-scale industries, Kerala might not benefit from the sops that would be announced for the Make in India marketing campaign.
The state had sought Central assistance many times to save the rubber growers. It also sought help to focus on making agriculture a viable and productive occupation through a suitable flagship programme, assistance to address second generation issues in education and health, boost for infrastructure, special schemes for ageing population, among other things.
“The state expects something such as a debt- waiver scheme to overcome the current financial crisis,” Jose Sebastian, faculty of Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, said.