Union Budget Neglected Kerala: CM Chandy
Thiruvananthapuram: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget has failed to excite the State even as it received critical acclaim from all over the country.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy expressed strong protest against what he called the total neglect of the State in the Union Budget.
The Chief Minister said the State was looking forward to Central assistance in the wake of the crisis in the agriculture sector. We were expecting that the Centre would set aside Rs. 1,000 crore for rubber farmers, who are facing a huge crisis due to crash in prices, but that did not happen, he said and added that the allocation for Rubber Board had also been slashed, according to an official statement here.
While BJP State President Kummanam Rajasekharan hailed the budget and said that the Narendra Modi-led Government has once again proved its commitment towards people.
CPM Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan criticised that the budget did not explore the option of using the profit which the government had gained from the steep fall in oil prices in the international market.
While the State Government had taken all steps, including identification of project land, the Centre had failed to announce the promised All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. It also failed to declare Sabarimala as a national pilgrimage centre, he said. Chandy said the State was expecting assistance for the Gulf returnees, but this also had not happened.
State Planning Board vice chairman K M Chandrasekhar IAS said that he was not impressed with the budget as it did not offer much to the states, be it allocations made as part of Centrally-sponsored schemes or for specific crops, which would have helped farmers in distress. “I would give around 5 out of 10 for the budget. Many announcements are long-term projects and I don't see any short-term gains for the states. We were looking at more proactive schemes,'' Chandrasekhar said. He said states like Kerala are staring at a huge crisis after the fall in oil prices and its impact.
“There are no rehabilitation schemes for the returning migrants in the budget though the State has made substantial contribution in terms of NRI remittances,'' Chandrasekhar said.
The Chief Minister expressed disappointment over the Centre’s failure to accept the State Government's request for announcing a special package for tribals in Wayanad district. “There is a remarkable reduction in the budget allocation for public sector units in the State,” he said.
The budget has sanctioned Rs. 450 crore for it though the Kochi Metro Rail Limited had sought Rs. 779 crore. According KMRL authorities, the main shortfall in the budget allocation is in the head of account - Pass Through Assistance (PTA), where the provision is only Rs. 434 crore as against Rs. 638 crore that had been sought. Overseas loan assistance is sourced through the head of account. However, in the revised estimate of the Union Budget for financial year 2015-16, an additional amount of Rs 44.88 crore has been provided by way of equity.
During the last fiscal, KMRL had received an allocation of Rs. 643.96 crore, including the additional revised equity allocation of Rs. 44.48 crore. With this allocation, the Union Government has provided the entire sanctioned amount of Rs. 753.73 crore as equity to KMRL. The State Government’s contribution towards equity till now is Rs. 641.50 crore.
Responding to the Centre’s allocation, KMRL managing director Elias George said, “we hope the shortfall in allocation can be resolved during the course of the forthcoming fiscal, when the budget estimates are revised. The present allocation is sufficient for going forward with the plan of activities proposed by KMRL,” he said.
The Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) has been given Rs. 6 crore in this budget which is much low compared to the amounts sanctioned in recent Union budgets. However, officials said that FACT is yet to get the amounts sanctioned in the previous budgets.