Kerala budget’s focus is on infrastructure, development

July 8th, 2011 - 7:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, July 8 (IANS) Kerala’s annual budget for 2011-12, the first since the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) came to power in April elections to the state assembly, Friday emphasises on infrastructure and development. It also aims to make the state investor-friendly.

“The UDF government had given an assurance ahead of the elections on various issues and through this budget I have seen that adequate funds have been earmarked for it,” Finance Minister K.M. Mani said in the assembly.

This was Mani’s record ninth budget presented to the state assembly. The Oomen Chandy government assumed office May 18.

“After taking over the liabilities of the previous Left government, I have managed to put the deficit for this fiscal at Rs.350 crore,” he stressed.

Among the major infrastructure projects that have been given allocations are the proposed Vizhinjam port, the Smart City IT project at Kochi, Kochi Metro Rail and Kannur airport.

On the development front, Mani said he has initiated a project where he will be able to provide jobs to one lakh unemployed youths.

“For this, a Rs.500 crore capital investment will be made. It will be done with the joint initiative of the public, private and the local panchayats and be coordinated by the state-owned Kerala Financial Corporation,” the minister said.

He also announced that an attempt will be made to conduct a global investor meet, like the one that took place during the previous LDF government’s tenure.

“The Smart City project was visualised then, but the opposition did not cooperate. If it had, by now several huge projects would have materialised,” Mani said.

“So, we are going to make one more attempt to make Kerala an investment destination and for that we will hold an investment meet named ‘Emerging Kerala’,” he added.

With the liquor consumption going up, the minister has decided to increase the cess from one percent to six percent.

He added: “There has been an increase in the consumption of pan parag and we have decided to increase the tax to 20 percent and through this an additional Rs.five crore can be raised.”

Hitting out at the previous Left government, he said the debt of the state has gone up from Rs.45,929 crore in 2005-06 to an estimated Rs.88,887 crore by the end of this fiscal.

“We have become a debt-stressed state and have joined states like West Bengal and Punjab,” Mani said.

Later, reacting to former finance minister Thomas Issac’s comment on what happened to the white paper on Kerala’s finances that was announced when the Chandy government took over, Mani said they will bring out one during the ongoing assembly session.

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