‘Are we beggars?’ Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah slams Union govt on fund allocation

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah highlighted disparities in tax revenue distribution and lamented the burden placed on the state by Union schemes.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
Karnataka Chief Minister SiddaramaiahTwitter
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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday, February 29 slammed the Union government's treatment of the state, criticising the reduction in grants and its impact on Karnataka's financial stability. Replying to a discussion on the budget in the Assembly, he asked, "Such injustice is meted out against us. When asked to release the special grants recommended by the 15th Finance Commission, she (Nirmala Sitharaman) said that the format wasn’t right. Is she giving us alms? Are we beggars?" 

Drawing a parallel to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Siddaramaiah criticised the alleged injustice of reduced fund allocation to Karnataka in the Union budget.

Expressing his concerns about the lack of movement in releasing funds for drought-affected areas, he said, “We had sent the proposal for drought relief in October itself. We met the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. We had requested relief for 223 out of 240 taluks which are drought-affected. Although the Union Minister said he would call a meeting on December 23, the meeting has not been held so far. We have temporarily distributed relief to 33 lakh farmers.”

He further said, “The poor are bearing the brunt of unemployment and escalating prices. Through guarantee schemes, we intend to provide them with Rs 4,000 to 5,000, benefitting around 1.2 crore families, encompassing approximately 4.5 crore individuals.”

The Chief Minister expressed dissatisfaction with the current allocation of funds, highlighting that Karnataka relies heavily on its own tax revenue, contributing 78%, while only receiving 22% from the Union government. Reacting to the Union Finance Minister’s statement that the Union government provides money to the states, the CM said, “Where is this money coming from? From our taxes. That is why we say our tax is our right.” 

The Chief Minister said that while the Union government's budget size stands at Rs 45 lakh crore, Karnataka receives only Rs 50,257 crore, including centrally awarded projects.

Read: Union budget grew in 6 years, but allocation to Karnataka didn't: CM Siddaramaiah 

He pointed out that many of the schemes labelled as Union initiatives often end up with the state bearing the majority of the financial burden. For instance, in the case of the Sarvashikshana Abhiyan, while Karnataka was allocated Rs 702 crore, the expected share from the Union government was only Rs 472 crore. Yet, the state government contributed an additional Rs 1,528 crore to the initiative. Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, while the Union government allocated Rs 187 crore, the state contributed Rs 624 crore, with an additional Rs 124 crore provided alongside. 

Siddaramaiah compared the current budget of Rs 3,71,343 crore, an increase over the last one presented by the Basavaraj Bommai government, indicating an increase of Rs 62,200 crore. “The state's GDP was recorded at Rs 25,63,247 crore, while projections for this fiscal year estimate it to reach Rs 28,09,063 crore, indicating a significant increase. Can such growth in both GDP and budget size occur without corresponding development?” he said. 

He reiterated the government's focus on development projects, allocating a substantial amount of Rs 1,25,000 crore specifically for this purpose, alongside provisions for five guarantee schemes. “Opposition’s accusation that development projects have stopped due to guarantees has no truth,” he said. 

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