Issac terms budget development-oriented, opposition says mockery (Roundup)

February 10th, 2011 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 10 (IANS) Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac, who presented his sixth consecutive budget Thursday, termed it “development-oriented” and an attempt to do something for non-Keralites (NRKs) while the Congress-led opposition dismissed it as a “mockery of conventions”. Issac is only the second finance minister of the state to present all the budgets in a five-year tenure of the assembly. His senior party colleague T.Sivadasa Menon achieved this in the E.K. Nayanar cabinet (1996-2001).

Issac’s budget, ahead of the forthcoming polls, had a string of sops, including hike in social welfare pensions from Rs.300 to Rs.400, provision of Rs.2 a kg rice for four million poor families and Rs.770 crore of schemes for women.

He also announced the government would deposit Rs.10,000 as fixed deposit for every child born in the state and the sum could be used once the child completes Plus-2 level of education to meet the expenses on higher studies.

Contending that his budgets have not been able to do full justice to the NRKs, Issac said: “Let me ask: what the hell has the central government done for NRIs? Don’t they have huge amounts collected by way of various fees from the NRIs? Let them also do something, but look this time I have set aside Rs.19 crore for them…I fully agree this is little.”

Issac has set aside Rs.9 crore for various welfare schemes for the NRKs and Rs.10 crore for the Norka Welfare Fund.

An unimpressed Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said that through this budget, Issac has made a mockery of himself.

“He has become a laughing stock because a government is in office for five years and the sixth one (budget) is a merely technical formality to complete the constitutional duties. The next government is duty bound to present their budget and hence this one will have no meaning,” he said.

The V.S.Achuthanandan government assumed office on May 18, 2006, and the notification for the next assembly polls is expected anytime.

“If Issac had announced all these in 2007, maybe we would have applauded at least some of them, but this exercise of his today does not mean anything,” added Chandy.

Defending his budget and hitting back at Chandy, Issac said in 2006 when he presented his first budget he basically presented an alteration memorandum and added to it policies of the Left.

“See, the budget presented today has more of a development perspective, which unfortunately is beyond the realms of the opposition. We are placing this budget before the people and we will wait and see what they have to say,” he said.

“My previous budgets were an exercise meant for consolidation and it was a clean-up exercise of many state-owned institutions. This time, it is a major breakthrough meant basically for infrastructure development through new business models, especially for revamping two organisations which will look after the proposed Rs.40,000 crore road development programme,” added Issac.

“In the past five years, the growth rate of the state has been growing at nine percent and very soon Kerala will become the fastest growing state in the country. In the last three years, it is a great achievement that not even on a single day has the treasury gone into overdraft,” he contended.

His latest budget will result in 23.6 per cent hike in revenue expenditure but there are no proposals for additional resource mobilisation in the Rs.730.67 crore deficit budget.

The revenue receipts for the year 2011-12 was estimated at Rs.38,546.89 crore and expenditure at Rs.44,566.33 crore, leaving a revenue deficit of Rs.6,019.44 crore.

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