The YSR Congress Party led Andhra Pradesh Government on May 20 presented its annual Budget for the financial year 2021-22 with an estimated expenditure of Rs 2.29 lakh crore and an estimated revenue of Rs 1.77 lakh crore.
The government has allocated a whopping Rs 31,256.26 crore for agriculture and allied sector, but farmer activists are sceptical of the government realising the budget spendings considering its track record on budget implementation in the previous two years.
Opposition parties including Telugu Desam party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) have criticised the government saying that the budget doesn’t include allocations on adequate measures for tackling the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While the state will be facing a revenue deficit of Rs 5,000 crore and a fiscal deficit of Rs 37,029 crore, the government targeted to borrow Rs 50,525 crore afresh this year, increasing its public debt to Rs 3,87,125 crore in 2021-22 from Rs 3,55,874 crore in 2020-21. Notably, a staggering Rs 23,205.88 crore will be spent towards debt servicing alone.
Of the Rs 31,256.26 crore allocation for agriculture and allied sector, which is about 13.6% of the state budget, Rs 5,000 crore has been allotted for paying subsidy under free power supply scheme; Rs, 8,116 crore for employment guarantee scheme (integrating Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Act Scheme (MGNREGA) with agriculture and allied works); Rs 3,845.3 crore for YSR Rythu Bharosa scheme (providing investment support for farmers including tenant farmers and Podu farmers); Rs 1,802 crore for crop insurance; Rs 500 crore for price stabilisation fund; and Rs 11,210.80 crore allocated for other agriculture schemes including promoting contractual and organic farming.
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Y Kesav Rao, president of the Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham said that the government has been failing to spend the budget allocations to agriculture in the previous two years. Moreover, while about Rs 3,000 crore was needed to be allocated for the price stabilisation fund, only Rs 500 crore is allocated. “Under the Market Intervention Scheme, the government compensates farmers who do not get minimum support price (MSP) for their crop produce using funds from the price stabilisation fund. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers are struggling to sell their crop produce and incurring losses. By allocating such meagre amount to the crucial scheme, the government has now left farmers at the mercy of middlemen,” said Rao.
For health and family welfare, the government has allocated Rs 13,830.44 crore for the current fiscal, which is over 21.1% higher than the previous year. While presenting the budget, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy said the government has spent Rs 2,246.18 crore for combating COVID-19 pandemic so far. However, only Rs 1,000 crore including the amount for procurement of vaccines was allotted this year to fight the pandemic, as per reports.
While the state government has promised free COVID-19 treatment and free vaccination, P Madhu, CPI(M) state secretary, said in a press statement that the budgetary allocations are not at par to meet the requirements. Further, he said that the government has not offered any support to the poor and middle income households severely hit by the pandemic.
“The estimated revenue appears to be inflated making this a budget based on hope and unrealistic targets,” added Madhu.
TDP head N Chandrababu Naidu said that the budget exposes the bankrupt situation of the state. Stating that the YSRCP government is misleading the people, Naidu said that despite the revenue collections standing at just Rs 1.18 lakh crore against the estimated Rs 1.61 lakh crore last fiscal, the government has estimated Rs 1.77 lakh crore towards revenue collections this fiscal.
Among other highlights of the budget, the government has allocated Rs 48,083.92 crore for 22 welfare schemes this year. The budget documents have also incorporated 'gender budget' as well as 'child budget' this year, with an outlay of Rs 47,283 crore and Rs 16,748 crore, respectively.
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