Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 15 (IANS) Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac on Friday presented the state’s Budget of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government in the Assembly, promising to generate eight lakh employment opportunities in the state.
Addressing the Assembly, Issac said that it was a “people-centric and welfare-oriented Budget” and that schemes proposed in it would help support the underprivileged and downtrodden people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that the Kerala government had tried to address the growing unemployment crisis and would support 2,500 start-up initiatives to ensure employment to 20,000 youths.
The state also proposed to raised Minimum Support Price (MSP) of rubber from Rs 150 to Rs 170 per kg to boost rubber industry. The MSP of coconut is proposed to be Rs 32 per kg and of paddy Rs 28 per kg.
Other highlights of the Budget include continuation of free distribution of food kits to all ration card holders; 10 kg rice at Rs 15 per kg to blue and white ration card holders; and eight lakh job opportunities — five lakh earmarked for educated unemployed persons and three lakh for unemployed in all categories.
He also proposed increase in social welfare pensions to Rs 1,600 from Rs 1,500 per month from April 2021 onwards. As many as 4,000 new posts would be created in Health Department. Under the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board, development projects worth Rs 1,50,000 crore would be completed, Issac told the Assembly.
Similarly, women not working but sitting at home would be trained/skilled to help them get professional assignments. The Kerala bank, Kerala State Financial Enterprise and Kerala Financial Corporation would provide loans to people working from home.
The Budget also proposed support to provide jobs to 20,000 persons in five years via digital economy. Details of professionals who could take up voluntary assignments and those who received training would be made available on digital platforms. Laptops would be made available at all households and 25 per cent subsidy given to poor families.
Internet would not be made a monopoly in the state by any organisation or company.
Fellowships of Rs 1 lakh would be provided to young research scholars in sciences, Rs 56 crore earmarked for infrastructure development at government colleges and Rs 52 crore for the handloom sector.
The Budget provides for Rs four crore for handicrafts and Rs five crore for Kerala Bamboo Corporation Ltd. The Champions Boat League would be provided Rs 20 crore, the Minister said.
Construction of three industrial corridors would be undertaken, for which the Budget has earmarked Rs 50,000 crore. A new park for the construction of a special ward for cancer patients would be made a reality.
For senior citizens, schemes such as [email protected], 500 clubs for senior citizens and home delivery of medicines was also promised by the state government in the Budget.
The Research department at Kerala Health University would be named after late Padmanabhan Palpu, a noted doctor from Kerala.
The Budget proposals include increase in pension of journalists by Rs 1,000. The Press Club with residential facilities for woman journalists would be constructed at Thiruvananthapuram.
As many as 1.5 lakh homes for the deprived and underprivileged sections of society under the LIFE mission have been earmarked. As much as 6,000 crore is proposed to be allocated for this initiative.
The regional cancer centres would be allocated Rs 71 crore, the Malabar cancer centre Rs 25 crore and the Cochin Cancer centre completed in this financial year. As much as Rs 320 crore has been earmarked for the welfare of the transgender community, Rs 42 crore for minority welfare and Rs 5,000 crore for the fishermen community.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that the Budget is a “farce” and that the Finance Minister is “beating about the bush without any concrete solutions to the growing financial issues facing the state”.
Speaking in the Assembly, the Congress leader said: “Issac’s Budget is a bluff; he has not done anything to address the woes of the common man in the state but announced measures that are easy to dream about but can’t be implemented. Issac is living in a dream world and cannot even support less than 10 per cent of society.”
The activists of Kerala unit of BJP Yuva Morcha burnt copies of the Budget in front of the Assembly, leading to a minor scuffle with the police.