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Kerala Budget 2020-21: Pinarayi government increases welfare pension; focuses on infrastructure

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala government has not allowed the ongoing economic slump across the country to affect development activities in the state, Finance Minister Thomas Issac said in the Assembly on Friday while presenting the state budget for 2020-21.

This is the final full budget of the Pinarayi Vijayan led LDF government and the 11th state budget presented by Isaac.

With a little more than a year left in office, the present LDF government has already surpassed the total allocation made by the previous UDF during its five-year tenure, he said.

Earlier, Isaac began his budget speech by highlighting the protests across the country in the wake of the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by Parliament.  

He listed out steps taken by the state to register its protest against CAA. He said the protests spearheaded by Kerala earned national attention.

Stating the amended act was posing a threat to the basic credentials of the Constitution, he said the country was witnessing the biggest protests ever in the post-Independence era.

Students and women are at the forefront of the anti- CAA agitations and the hope of the country lies in the youth who hit the streets vowing they would not let the country down, he said.

Coming down heavily on the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, Isaac said a communalised government machinery, leaders who talk only about "disgust and hatred" and their party workers who consider violence as their duty was the current reality in the country.

"Generally speaking, it is the present India. The concerns triggered by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are beyond words. The fear of detention centres are hanging above the head of over 19 lakh people of Assam who have lived as Indians till yesterday," he said.

Quoting from a poem 'Fear' by a 15-year old boy from Wayanad Dhruvath Gautham who wrote 'fear is country and silence is an ornament!,' Isaac said, "even the imagination of our children is now filled with fear".

Referring to the stringent opposition raised by the Left government in the state against the CAA and NRC, the finance minister lavished praise on the joint protests led by the ruling LDF and opposition UDF against the central act.

Making a scathing attack on the Central government, Issac said the BJP-led NDA government was "strangulating" the southern state by denying funds.

Presenting the 2020-21 budget of the Pinarayi Vijayan led-LDF government, he alleged the centre has been "helping" corporates rather that the common man.

"The Centre has been strangulating Kerala by denying funds for the state and has been moving on a self-destructive path by corporate-friendly policies and privatisation. The GST implementation has not been beneficial for the state," he said.

He also set aside Rs 1,000 crore for coastal area development, Rs 1,500 crore for the public works department, Rs 1,000 crore has been allotted for village road projects and Rs 4,383 crore for drinking water projects in the state.

"The government proposes 2.5 lakh water connections in the upcoming financial year. We will also construct one lakh houses under Life Mission," the finance minister said.

The budget has allocated Rs 90 crore for Pravasi Welfare Fund and the government proposes power projects with a capacity of 500 MW.

"The government proposes Kochi development plan with a fund of Rs 6,000 crore. The city will get an unified travel card and Metro project will be extended," Issac said.

The state government has increased all welfare pension funds by Rs 100, allotted Rs 40 crore to paddy farmers and Rs 10 crore for startups in the state.

The local self-governments have been allotted Rs five crore for waste management, Rs 20 crore has been set apart for 1,000 food stalls under hunger-free Kerala, where meals will be made available at Rs 25.

The state government also hiked welfare pensions by Rs 100 and taking it to Rs 1,300, apart from announcements like setting up 1,000 new eateries operated by women self-help group Kudumbahsree that would offer a meal at Rs 25 and starting 200 Kerala Chicken outlets offering poultry products at reduced rates.

Thomas Isaac also said that Rs 20,000 crore worth of infrastructure development work will be carried out under the Kerala Infrastructure and Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).

Key highlights:

• One lakh new houses to come up under Life Mission.

• Royalty proposed for paddy cultivation; Rs 40 crore allocated.

• Rs 90 crore set apart for the welfare of Non-Resident Keralites.

• Rs 1,000 crore proposed for the development of coastal areas.

• Rs 4,384 crore to be spent for various drinking water projects.

• Two lakh new drinking water connections to be given.

• Rs 1,000 crore to be earmarked for the development of rural roads.

• KIIFB-works for 2020-21: Rs 20,000 crore projects, 20,985 km of new roads, 10 bypasses in 43 km, 20 flyovers in 22 km, 74 bridges in 53 km.

• Rs 6,000 crore for development of Kochi city.

• Rs 4,384 crore to be spent for various drinking water projects.

• Rs 1,000 crore for horticulture; floriculture.

• Royalty proposed for paddy cultivation; Rs 40 crore allocated.

• 1,000 Kudumbashree eateries to offer a meal at Rs 25.

• Two lakh new drinking water connections to be given.

• Health sector: Oncology park proposed in the state, Training for nurses planning overseas job.

• Welfare pensions raised to Rs 1,300.

• Ban on CFL, filament bulbs from Nov 2020.

• Startups to be given loans at 10 % interest rate.

• Bekal-Kovalam waterway to be opened this year.


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