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Kerala Budget 2019 Highlights: Highest outlay for health, 1% Cess to rebuild Kerala, hike in welfare pensions

Kerala Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Isaac tabled the Kerala Budget 2019 in the Legislative Assembly. The budget is especially important considering it will contain the government’s proposals to rebuild Kerala after the devastating Kerala Floods of 2018. Stay with NewsClick for more analysis on the Kerala Budget 2019.
Kerala Budget 2019 Highlights: Highest outlay for health, 1% Cess to rebuild Kerala, hike in welfare pensions

CPI(M) Central Committee member and Kerala’s Finance Minister, Dr. T.M. Thomas Isaac is presenting Kerala Budget 2019 at the Kerala Legislative Assembly now. This is the 10th Budget presented by the two-time Finance Minister Dr. T.M. Thomas Isaac. The budget presentation will begin at 9:00 AM. Kerala Budget 2019 will provide a clear picture about the projects the government will be implementing to rebuild Kerala after one most the most devastating floods the State has ever witnessed.

Earlier, Dr. Thomas Isaac said in a Facebook post that he had prepared each Budget with the perspective of strengthening and driving forward the discussions on Kerala’s development. The approach was not a mere presentation of expenditure allocation and allocations to the departments. “Kerala Budget 2019 too, will raise the debates on development to a new level,” he added.

The Finance Minister said that the growth rate estimated for the financial year 2018-2019 was not achieved as a result of the Kerala floods, and Goods and Services Tax implementation. In the coming financial year too, Kerala’s economy is expected to face a similar situation. The expected growth rate, therefore, will be 1.5% lesser than estimated. The budget will also take up the challenge of reducing the fiscal deficit and revenue deficit, but without reducing government expenses in various welfare schemes initiated by the Kerala Government after Left Democratic Front sworn into power.

Kerala Budget 2019 will have proposals to impose a 1% cess, in addition to GST,  on all items. It is expected that all essential commodities which are under the 5% GST slab, will be exempted from the cess. However, a clear picture of this will be revealed only in the budget.

The debate on the Kerala Budget 2019 will begin on February 4 at Kerala Legislative Assembly. The Budget discussions will continue on 5 and 6. Discussions and voting on Vote on Account will be held on 7 February 2019.

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A More Sensitive Stand Towards the Fiscal

Delivering his 10th budget speech, Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Isaac said that it was important that the government takes a more sensitive stand towards the fiscal.

118 schemes to rebuild Kerala

The floods have had a massive impact on the state. The impact led to utter paralysis of employment and production for at least two months. The focus thus must be on livelihood expansion. As part of the 2019-20 annual plans, 118 schemes will be implemented.

Rebuild Kerala Initiative - Rs. 1,000 crore will be allocated

Rs. 1,000 Crore will be allocated for the Rebuild Kerala Initiative. The rebuilding of Kerala is the main aim of this Budget. A sum of Rs. 250 Crore will be allotted for flood-affected panchayats. The focus will be on rebuilding and not just rebuilding, but permanent rebuilding. The minister highlights the role of people’s participation in this process.

Rs. 1.45 Lakh Crore total expenditure will be allotted for the Mission Nava Kerala (new Kerala)

Rs. 1.45 Lakh Crore total expenditure will be allotted for the Mission Nava Kerala (new Kerala). This programme will have 25 schemes. A key component will be the industrial parks and industrial investment. The size of the industrial parks will be increased to 6,700 acres. A sum of Rs. 15,600 crore will be allotted for industrial parks.

Over 50 Lakh Sq. Ft. of Space for IT Parks, 1.16 Crore to be built additionally in next 2 years

Over 50 Lakh square feet of space in Information Technology parks has been built. In the next two years, 1.16 Crore square feet more of space in such parks will be built. The number of jobs on IT parks in the tenure of the government has doubled from 1 Lakh to 2 Lakh, says Dr. Isaac to much applause. Kerala is clearly catching up in the IT sector as well.

Focus on improving incentives for start-ups

The government is also focusing on improving incentives for start-ups, using examples from countries such as Chile and Estonia.

Government plans to double the income of the farmers, Carbon Neutral Wayanad, Malabar Coffee

Thomas Isaac moves to agriculture and cash crops. The government plans to double the income of the farmers of Wayanad, and in a sign of sustainable thinking, is looking to ensure a carbon neutral Wayanad, The famous coffee from the district will be marked with the distinctive Malabar brand. A 150 Crore mega food park will be set up to this end.

Greater role for cooperative bodies in the scientific management of coffee plantations

Kerala already has a history of a strong cooperative movement. Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Isaac indicates a greater role for such bodies in the scientific management of coffee plantations. The objective is to ensure a higher share of the price for farmers, the Minister says.

Environmental Sensitivity of the Western Ghats will be taken into consideration

Trekking trails will also be established in Wayanad. At the same time, the environmental sensitivity of the Western Ghats will be taken into consideration while implementing schemes to improve agricultural productivity in the high ranges.

Rs. 70 Crore has been allotted for value addition for coconut farmers

Rs. 70 Crore has been allotted for value addition for coconut farmers. This price will be transferred to farmers’ accounts online while coconuts are taken to the market.

Integrated Rice Park and Rubber Park

An integrated rice park and rubber park will be set up. The government to work on ensuring that more of the value addition goes to farmers. Dr. Isaac notes that the Minimum Support Price offered by the State is already 7.8 rupee already higher than that of the Centre. The rubber park is likely to be able to produce everything from balloons to tyres.

Rs. 1,000 crore one-time Kuttanad package

A one-time Rs. 1,000 Crore package for the Kuttanad region has been announced, which was especially affected by the floods. A key focus will be on removing silt and cleaning the backwaters. The Thanneermukkam bund will be kept open for one year to let saline water in and cleaning happen. All streams and canals will be cleaned. Waste coming into backwaters through them have to be prevented.

Flood resistant road to be built between Alappuzha and Changanassery

A sum of 16 Crore has been set up for duck breeding farm in Kuttanad. The Alappuzha - Changanassery road will be rebuilt in a flood-resistant manner. Animal shelters will be built to protect animals during floods. At least Rs. 500 Crore to be spent in 2019-20 as part of Kuttanad package with the help of KIIFB funding.

Massive Campaign of Rejuvenation of Rivers in Kerala

Rivers to be rejuvenated. In the light of the floods, a massive campaign of rejuvenation of rivers has been announced. As many as 24 rivers and streams are being rejuvenated. Wetland development schemes will be initiated and river basin authorities will be formed.

Rs. 1000 Crore will be spent in coastal sectors in Kerala

The fisherfolk of the State were in the forefront of rescue efforts in the aftermath of the floods. Rs. 1000 Crore will be spent in coastal sectors in the State this year and people in 10,000 houses in coastal regions to be shifted elsewhere.

Fishing workers will be provided satellite phones and GPS enabled navigation instruments

Rs. 227 Crore has been allotted for breakwaters. More fishing harbours will be set up. Fishing workers will be provided satellite phones and GPS enabled navigation instruments at the cost of Rs. 13 Crore. As much as 200 Crore will be spent on coastal roads. All schools for children in the coastal areas have been adopted by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and all taluk hospitals in the coastal region will be upgraded. A boat building yard will be established in Kollam. All in all, Rs 1000 crore from the package will be spent for the coastal region.

Kerala PSUs make a turnaround

The government has effected a turnaround in the performance of Public Sector Units. Dr. Isaac says that when this government came to power, only 8 PSUs were in profit. Now 20 are in profit. In total, the losses amounts to Rs. 123 Crore and the profit to Rs. 160 Crore profit.

State PSUs will not be privatised

Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Isaac says that the state PSUs will not be privatised. The focus, instead will be on collaboration, such as the initiative between KELTRON and Intel.

All CFL & filament bulbs to be repalced by LED bulbs

The government is setting out on a major energy conservation initiative. 50 Crore units of power can be saved if all filament bulbs and CFL bulbs in the houses of Kerala are replaced with LED bulbs. Scheme for that will be set up in association with Kudumbashree workers who will collect the bulbs from houses. Schemes will be put in place to replace power-inefficient fans and other such equipment, Such schemes will be implemented with the cooperation of panchayats

6000 km of more roads to be built in next 2 years

In next two years, 6000 km more of roads will be built. The roads that will be built as part of the Rebuild Kerala initiative would be designed in a modern fashion. Full-depth reclamation, micro surfacing etc are among the new methods to be used. A new age, a new construction is the motto

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