Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday February 1 said that the Union Budget for 2022-23, presented in the parliament, does not provide the expected relief to the various sectors facing a crisis due to the Covid pandemic.
The Chief Minister noted that the allocation for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the financial year 2022-23 is Rs. 73,000 crores, which is Rs. 25,000 crores less than the revised estimate for 2021-22. During the Covid period, an amount of Rs. 39,000 crores were earmarked for vaccination but now only Rs. 5,000 crores has been allocated. This will be inadequate while considering future needs. Overall, there has been a nominal increase of 4.63 per cent only in the total expenditure of the Central Government.
The CM added that the move to cut down the food subsidies by 28 per cent would result in the weakening of the country’s public distribution system. The reduction of 25 per cent in fertiliser subsidy is a major issue affecting our agriculture sector. Making the tax share of the cooperative sector at par with that of the corporates is not something that will help the cooperative sector in any way. The fact that the amount set aside for rural development is less than the allocation for last year will also create problems for rural development.
Financial conservatives have long opposed the principle of increasing public spending to stimulate the economy. However, in this budget, the Union Finance Minister has said that increasing public investment expenditure is essential for private investment and economic growth. It’s a deviation from that principle but it can be seen from the budget figures that no steps have been taken to achieve this goal.
The Union Budget will not aid in taking forward the development of the State. The budget has also failed to address the urgent needs that the state has always raised. Kerala’s perpetual demand for sanctioning an AIIMS has been ignored. The need for a separate railway zone has also met a similar fate. It may be noted that the fund allocation for Central Public Sector Undertakings in Kerala is inadequate to the needs. The proposed semi-high-speed K-Rail project is also not mentioned in the budget, Chief Minister said.
In the post-Covid period, there is a need to provide more assistance to states including Kerala but the budget has been inconsiderate on this. The demand of the states to extend the GST compensation for another 5 years was not considered. Similarly, the budget has not accepted the State’s demand to hike the credit limit to 5 per cent. The reduction in the amount set aside to cover the revenue deficits of the states will also put severe pressure on the financial position of the states.
On the positive side, many of the projects put forward by the State Government have been reflected in the central budget. Projects like K-FON, KIIFB and the Digital University are a few of them. It is gratifying that such development perspectives of the State Government are reflected in the Union Budget. The state government is moving ahead with these projects despite many obstacles and unnecessary opposition.
The CM expressed hope that, as the vision of the State is accepted, the Central Government will take the necessary steps to assist these projects.
The Chief Minister has requested the Central Government to sanction and announce projects in the social, physical and infrastructure sectors of Kerala including the AIIMS approval in this Budget session itself.