KOCHI: ''It's only a dream budget full of imagination,'' commented former finance minister K M Mani, on the annual budget presented by his successor T M Thomas Isaac.
''The minister is putting the blame on demonetization and GST for the state's fiscal woes. But why other states are not in a severe financial crisis like in Kerala?'' he asked.
''The central government policies were a national phenomenon. Many states have addressed it in their own ways. If Kerala is facing the pinch more, then it is only because of the inept financial management,'' Mani underscored.
Mani said the minister was rueing over the big gap in revenue receipts and expenditure of the state, but he made no sincere attempts to cut down the wasteful expenditure.
He nonetheless welcomed the package announced for the coastal belt. However, he strongly criticised the absence of a farm package to checkmate the price rise of essential goods.
''There is no proposal in the budget to address the crisis in the natural rubber growing sector. I had announced a price support scheme at Rs 150 kilo. We were urging the amount to Rs 200/kilo but nothing happened. A farm loan waiver scheme should be announced. A loanee ended his life even on Thursday, in Wayanad,'' Mani said.
He pointed out that many of the budget proposals may sound big, but what matters is how much of it gets implemented. "As on December 31, 2017, the funds spent was just 51 per cent. Treasury curbs have become a routine now. When I was finance minister, treasuries were not closed down for even a single day'', he said.