LDF Govt in Kerala Presents a Pro-people Budget
N S Sajith
KERALA finance minister Thomas Isaac presented the budget for 2017-18 in the Assembly on March 5. The budget was a bold attempt to save the state’s economy and to provide maximum relief to the common people facing a crisis created by the central government’s demonetisation move and neo-liberal economic policies. The budget attracted a wide applause from every section of society. The opposition parties have not raised any objection to the budget provisions.
The second budget of the LDF government led by Pinarayi Vijayan draws a road map for comprehensive changes in infrastructure. At the same time, the budget gives equal prominence to social security, public education, agriculture, water conservation drives and projects headed by women.
As per the budget allocations, large and medium industries will get Rs 482 crore and state public sector units will get Rs 270 crore. Rs 549 crore has been allocated to the IT sector and Rs 75 crore for tourism marketing. In a major step, Rs 10,000 crore has been allocated for infrastructure development in the public education sector. 2,500 new posts will be created in the higher secondary education sector. In addition to this, Rs 500 crore will be made available to develop 45,000 high-tech classrooms and Rs 500 crore has been allotted for the development of schools with more than 1,000 students.
To promote gender equality, Rs 1,060 crore has been allocated to 64 all-women projects, Rs 13,400 crore to 104 projects in which women are beneficiaries and Rs. 161 crore to poverty reduction project Kudumbashree. Social security pension has been hiked to Rs 1,100 per month. Pre-primary teachers, ASHA workers and midday meal workers will get an additional pay of Rs 500. All government employees and pensioners will be covered by health insurance. Rs. 50 crore has been earmarked in the budget for retirement benefits of agricultural workers.
The finance minister announced a mega project of Rs 25,000 crore to enhance the infrastructure facilities of the state. He earmarked Rs 8,185 crore to construct new roads and bridges and Rs 3,500 crore for high-range highway. Other than these, the minister said that the government would take up road projects worth Rs 50,000 crore. To overcome drought situation, the minister announced that projects worth Rs 1,696 crore will be implemented. The Kerala State Transport Corporation will be given Rs 3,000 in the next three years.
The budget makes provision for free treatment for life-style diseases. The primary health sector will get Rs 2,000 crore. These health centres will provide free diabetes, cholesterol drugs. Besides, the budget makes provisions for creation of more than 5,000 medical posts, including that of doctors.
1. Rs 10 crore allocated for sewage maintenance. Efforts will be on to put an end to manual scavenging.
2. Rs 100 crore allocated for Smart City mission.
3. The government will set up autism parks in all districts of the state.
4. The budget allocates Rs 1,621 crore for child welfare.
5. The finance minister announced Rs 10 crore for endosulfan victims.
6. Over one lakh homeless people to get houses under budgetary provisions.
7. Rs 128 crore allocated for coir industry. Rs 50 crore will be spent under coir workers' welfare scheme.
8. Rs 45 crore allocation for coconut farming; Rs 10 crore for pepper and cardamom; and special project for rice cultivation in Kuttanad and Palakkad.
9. The budget makes provisions for free internet for 20 lakh economically-backward families.
10. More than 1 lakh jobs to be created through Infopark by 2020.
11. Rs 25 crore allocated for Sabarimala master plan.
12. 10,000 young artists in the state to be given Rs 10,000 per month each.