Kerala budget ignores reality, has no plan or practical solutions: Opposition and BJP

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 5 (PTI) The Congress-led UDF and the BJP on Monday termed the Kerala government's budget for the fiscal 2024-25 as a political statement which ignores reality and has no practical solutions for its financial problems, while the Left regime described it as a platform for spurring the state's growth.

Rejecting the criticism against the budget prepared by him, state Finance Minister K N Balagopal said it has set the platform for Kerala to make a huge jump in growth.

He said that the announcements made in the budget were not mere political statements made before an upcoming election and that the government firmly believes that it can be implemented in the present form.

He also emphasised upon the Central government neglect towards Kerala and various other non-BJP states and pointed out that even the Congress chief, Mallikarjun Kharge, was aware of that.

"The Congress in Kerala, however, acts as if it is not true," he said while speaking to the media after presenting the budget.

Prior to that, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Assembly V D Satheesan said the announcements made in it show lack of awareness about the reality.

Speaking to the media after the budget was presented by Balagopal, Satheesan said the budget document was used for making political criticism and announcements.

He also questioned how the public will have any confidence in this year's budget as the government only spent around 55 per cent of the planned expenditure for the financial year 2023-24 which is about to end in a couple of months.

Satheesan also referred to the Rs 10 hike in rubber support price announced in the budget and said that it "amounts to making fun of the rubber cultivators".

He said that the Left front had promised to increase the rubber support price to Rs 250 if it came to power.

Satheesan also said that just like all the amnesty schemes brought in by the Left government in the past to collect dues have failed, the similar initiative announced in this budget will also fail.

He said that in the fiscal 2023-24, the revenue deficit was Rs 24,585 crore and next year it would be Rs 27,846 crore which indicates that the serious financial situation in the state would continue.

Deputy LoP P K Kunhalikutty said everyone was waiting to see if the state Finance Minister would come up with any solutions for the dire financial situation of the state, but there were none.

Projects which have been pending for months were again announced in the budget, Kunhalikutty, also the national general secretary of Indian Union Muslim League, said.

BJP state chief K Surendran too spoke along similar lines.

Surendran said that the budget ignores reality and has no practical solution for the state's dire financial situation, farmer's problems, growth of business and industry and bringing investment to Kerala.

"It is full of political statements and criticism of the Central government," he said.

The BJP state chief also said that announcing a Rs 10 hike in the rubber support price was a "joke".

Balagopal, during the budget presentation, said that the support price was being hiked from Rs 170 to Rs 180 despite the financial limitations of the state.

He also blamed the Centre for not accepting the state's request to hike the price to Rs 250.

Surendran said that the Centre in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court has said that the main reason for the state's economic problems was the Left government's financial mismanagement.

Meanwhile, a traders' body said that the budget contained no stimulus package for the small scale businesses and that the amnesty scheme announced by the government was only partially beneficial.

S S Manoj, national secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said in a statement that while spending crores of rupees to attract new investors and organising programmes and announcing huge concessions for them, it is very regrettable that the small and medium-scale traders, who have made large investments in Kerala, were being excluded from the said benefits.

The Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) backed the budget saying that it has proposed a slew of growth-oriented measures that will further strengthen the state's flourishing startup ecosystem by opening up vast opportunities for startups.

KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.

Apart from allocations to KSUM and its projects, a raft of measures proposed by the Finance Minister for the development of Kerala’s digital ecosystem will have a positive impact on the startup domain, KSUM said. PTI HMP LGK HMP SS