Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday presented the annual budget for 2019-20 in the Legislative Assembly. He presented an annual budget of Rs 1,46,492.30 crore of which he stated that Rs 1,11,055.85 crore was allotted for revenue expenditure while Rs 17,274 crore was allotted for capital expenditure. This is 19.5% less than the vote on account he presented ahead of polls.
In February, KCR presented the vote on account showing a revenue expenditure of Rs 1,31,629 crore and a capital expenditure of Rs 32,815 crore.
However, in his budget speech this year, KCR said that the state had become financially stable in just five years after it was bifurcated from Andhra Pradesh.
The fiscal deficit of the state has been projected to be Rs 24,081.74 crore and revenue surplus to be Rs 2,044.08 crore.
Speaking on the floor of the House, KCR said, "In the first year of formation of the state, the situation was such that the state could spend just Rs 6,247 crore per month, whereas after five years, it has reached a stage where it spends Rs 11,305 crore per month."
The Chief Minister also said that the State‚Äôs Gross Domestic Product (GSDP), which stood at Rs 8,65,688 crore for the financial year 2018-19, had more than doubled since Telangana's formation. ‚ÄúBy the financial year 2018-19, the GSDP growth in Telangana State had increased two and half times and stood at 10.5%,‚ÄĚ he said in his speech. Telangana‚Äôs GSDP grew at 15% for financial year 2018-19, up from 14.2% in 2017-18.
The slashing of the budget could signal towards the slowdown affecting the state of Telangana as well.
"The severe economic slowdown is leading to serious repercussions in the country, which we are witnessing daily. It has adversely impacted all sectors. There is a negative growth in many key sectors, which mirror the prevailing economic situation. The official data put out by the institutions connected with these sectors present a gloomy picture,‚ÄĚ KCR said in his budget speech.
"The central government alone decides the broad fiscal policies in the country. The states have no option but to follow the fiscal policies of the Centre and Telangana is no exception. I regret that I am presenting the State Budget for 2019-20 in the House when both the Centre and state are going through a severe financial crisis. We have to tread carefully and cautiously during such a testing time," he added.
KCR said that the Finance Department did a lot of brain storming and discussed the matter with several experts, before preparing the Budget.
State's welfare schemes to continue
The Chief Minister said that the state government's welfare programmes would continue; from the Rythu Bandhu, which was allocated Rs 12,000 crore, to the Aasara Pensions, which saw an allocation of Rs 9,402 crore.
"Free power given to the farm sector will also continue. The electricity bills for supplying water from irrigation projects to agriculture lands will also be paid by the government without passing the burden on to farmers," KCR said, adding that Rs 8,000 crore was allotted for the same.
He also took a jibe at the Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme and said that Telangana's 'Aarogyasri' scheme was much better.
"Through Arogyasri, the state government is spending Rs 1,336 crore per year, benefitting 85.34 lakh families in the state. From the Centre‚Äôs Ayushman Bharat scheme, it is possible for the state to provide medical benefits only to the extent of Rs 250 crore per year, benefiting only 26 lakh families," KCR said.
"Let me make it clear that the state government will examine thoroughly, all the central government schemes and will implement only schemes which are beneficial to the people," he added.
Soon after KCR finished his speech, Speaker Pocharam Srinivas Reddy adjourned the House, to meet at 8 am on Saturday, September 14.
BJP lashes out
The BJP was quick to attack the TRS on the Budget, with the party's Chief Spokesperson K Krishna Saagar Rao, stating, "The budget presented falls short of both factual representation and fiscal vision for the state."
Finding fault with the Chief Minister presenting the Budget in the Assembly, while Finance Minister T Harish Rao presented it in the Legislative Council, the BJP said, "The CM delivering a budget speech, after a new Finance Minister has been sworn-in, highlights the plight of the new minister, Harish Rao. KCR seems to have made the new finance minister Harish a 'dummy' right from the day one."
"With lack of fiscal prudence, discipline and a vision, the state's finances today are in serious mess. The government has neither funds for welfare nor development. BJP finds this budget a state narrative of white lies, which was delivered by CM KCR," Rao said.