Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal, while presenting his fourth budget, stated the state government, instead of waiting for justice from the Union government, will utilise all its resources to raise capital investments from private and public sectors, thereby ensuring speedy implementation of programmes.
Balagopal also stated that the state is on the cusp of becoming a 'sunrise' economy and the government has planned to attract investment to the tune of at least Rs three lakh crore within the next three years. The sunrise sectors are sectors rapidly embracing futuristic strides in technology and have seen an exponential rise in demand.
"The thrust areas shall be the projects in tourism which can be completed in a short span, allied developmental activities in and around Vizhinjam and Cochin Ports, development of industrial corridors of Kochi, Palakkad and Kannur for which land has already been acquired, and IT-IT Enabled Services (ITES). Schemes to attract capital investment in the education sector will be initiated," he said. The government will continue its efforts to implement the proposed K-Rail project for high-speed rail travel, Balagopal added,
Balagopal said the growth rate of the manufacturing sector is higher than that of the overall domestic economy and sunrise sectors like electronic goods, herbal medicines, chemical industry and medical devices are driving this transformation.
The Finance minister said Kerala cannot remain a mute spectator against the hostile approach of the Union government which is pushing the state towards the worst financial crisis in its history. "Instead, we should strive forward with the strong sentiment of “Thakarilla Keralam, Thalarilla Keralam, Thakarkkanavilla Keralathe” (“Kerala will not be shattered, Kerala will not tire, Kerala cannot be destroyed”), he said.
Balagopal also said the state needs to reclaim its legal and constitutional rights through strong action by espousing the foundational ideals of cooperative federalism.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing a plea of the Kerala government that the Union government is choking the state financially by denying what is due to them.
The budget document’s cover carried the amended Preamble, which carried the words ‘Secular’ and ‘Socialist’. This comes after the Indian government’s official social media handles shared the old Preamble during Republic Day celebrations.
Here are the key highlights from the budget speech:
> An amount of ₹ 300.73 crore earmarked for the smooth and time-bound execution of major projects such as Vizhinjam Port, Cochin Metro and Kannur Airport
> Rs 2052.23 crore earmarked for the medical and public health sector and Rs 1032.62 crore for the general education sector.
> An amount of Rs 1,132 crore is earmarked for the LIFE scheme in the year 2024-25. LIFE is the housing scheme initiated by the state government to provide houses to all homeless families.
> ‘Kerala Climate Resilient Agri Value Chain Modernization Project’ (KERA), an externally aided project, to be launched in 2024-25 with the assistance of the World Bank. An amount of Rs 2365 crore will be spent as part of the project within the next five years. An amount of Rs 100 crore, including state share, has been earmarked for the scheme in 2024-25.
> An amount of ₹ 1000 crore from the State’s development schemes to be utilised for the schemes related with the proposals in Nava Kerala Sadas.
> Rs 588.85 crore is earmarked for irrigation, flood control and coastal zone management.
> Rs 50 crore for creating accommodation and other facilities in Varkala, Kollam, Munroe Thuruth, Alappuzha, Munnar, Fort Kochi, Ponnani, Beypore, Kozhikode, Kannur and Bekal.
> An amount of ₹ 128.54 crore earmarked as plan fund for the various activities of KSRTC.
> Rs 48.85 crore earmarked in the year 2024-25 for addressing issues related to man-animal conflicts.
> A sum of Rs 75 crore each allocated for development packages for Kasaragod, Idukki and Wayanad districts.
> An amount of Rs 25 crore allocated for setting up 2000 wi-fi hotspots across the state.
> Rs 75 crore is earmarked for the development and maintenance of state highways that link important cities and district headquarters within the state and connect them with major roads. A total of Rs 288.27 crore earmarked for the development and maintenance of major district roads.
> Rs 170.49 crore is earmarked for the developmental activities related to art and culture sector during the year 2024-25.
> An amount of Rs 5 crore earmarked for the scheme ‘Mazhavillu’, which is a financial assistance scheme for the welfare of transgender persons.