Even under the pressures of neoliberal global economy and regional devastation of flood, the state refuses to hollow out and instead reiterates its position to rebuild the state with key insights derived from renaissance values and modern technology. In keeping with the Election Manifesto and the 13th Five Year Plan document, the state budget has earmarked more funds for social provisioning and investment in productive sectors.
Further, for the first time, the government has decided to pump a significant share of its resources as capital expenditure – 12.6 per cent – which would help sustain the already realised higher growth rate of the economy at 7.18 per cent in 2017-18 as against 6.22 per cent in 2016-17. This is because the capital expenditure would be increased by more than 50 per cent over the last budget (2018-19); a huge increase indeed, though outside of the budgetary means.
All these taken together, what the state is going to reap is not just the governance dividend in one or two sectors but in the entire economy and society making the rebuilding of the state a reality in a few years.
Under neoliberal conditions, normally the state reduces its expenditure and withdraw from social provisions. In stark contrast, the budget has the provisions to increase social spending and thereby enhancing the quality of its social development.
An increased emphasis on three levels of infrastructure - technological (roads, bridges, canals etc), social infrastructure (schools, skill centres) and financial (KIIFB, public private participation and other sources of resource mobilisation) reveals the state’s planned approach to sustainable development by taking into account the resilience of the region and the relevance of modern technology across sectors such as IT and MSME in rebuilding the state.
Overall, the innovative dimensions of the budget in several sectors in the form of say, e-autos, rice park, petro-chemical park, fresh start up missions, solar projects are noteworthy, though a fresh approach in monitoring and evaluation is important to find the fiscal economy on track; and future Kerala would also provide jobs, particularly of those working population whose average age would be much higher at around 37 as against 29 for India as a whole by 2020.
(The writer is Member, State Planning Board)