Poll in sight; Kerala Budget takes a welfare twist

Poll in sight; Kerala Budget takes a welfare twist


It has been welfare schemes raining in the Budget presented by Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, his last for this Government.

Though he said the Centre was crippling the State finances and that there was a serious financial crunch, all these did not stand in the way of his announcing schemes, one after the other.

From Rs 6,000 crore allotted to an environmental-friendly and integrated transport system to be developed in Kochi, it was raising the pension under various welfare schemes and projects to create a safe environment for women and children.

Isaac said KIIFB, his pet project, had modified the State outlook and helped to an extent in surmounting the financial crisis. He lashed out at demonetisation and several Central policies and the decison to take a loan of Rs 50,000 crore by KIIFB had helped the state tide over the crisis. KIIFB had approved Rs 35,268 crore for 675 projects. Of this, Rs. 14,275 crore had been sanctioned for land acquisition for starting commercial parks and Rs 5,324 crore for land required for National Highway development.

The total estimate of KIIFB-approved projects was Rs. 54,678 crore, of which tender worth Rs 13,617 crore had been called and projects worth Rs 4,500 crore completed. An amount of Rs 493 crore has been allocated for the higher education department. Kudumbasree would get Rs 250 crore. Besides, the Government would set up 1,000 hotels to provide meals at Rs 25 and these would be run by Kudumbasree.

All welfare pensions in the state would be hiked by Rs 100 to raise it to Rs 1,300 a month. An amount of Rs 1,000 crore had been set aside for coastal area development. To shore up revenues in the wake of money from the Centre not going to come up as expected, the tax on bikes and cars has been upped and is expected to generate around Rs 250 crore, a miniscule.

Fair value of land has been increased by 10 per cent and those around mega projects would be raised by 30 per cent. With the local body elections due later this year and the Assembly elections by mid-2021, Isaac has time to tide over bureaucratic hurdles and create an atmosphere that will appear favourable to LDF.