Boost to IT, industries, infra in Kerala during its first paperless budget

The Left government in Kerala on Friday presented a budget which made huge allocations to information technology, industries and infrastructure.

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Kerala govt | Kerala | State Budgets

The Left government in Kerala on Friday presented a budget which made huge allocations to information technology, industries and infrastructure. Also, the budget did not impose a tax burden on the common man despite the financial crunch induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though some of the announcements were expected to end the economic crisis, Finance Minister K N Balagopal chose to revise the basic land tax, increase the fair value of land and motor vehicle tax and enhance the green tax imposed on old vehicles to mobilise an additional revenue of Rs 350 crore annually.

The first complete budget of the second term of the Pinarayi Vijayan-headed government for the fiscal 2022-23 found a place in the history of the State Assembly as the first-ever paperless budget as Balagopal presented it through an i-pad.

The budget allotted Rs 2,000 crore for the K-Rail project amid criticism that the recent Union Budget ignored the project.

Stating that the electric railway system is the most eco-friendly mode of transport available now-a-days, the Minister expressed hope that the Centre would approve the project soon.

In line with the ruling CPI(M)’s poll promise of creating a “Nava Kerala” (New Kerala), the Minister, in the nearly two-and-a-half hour-long budget speech, gave thrust to initiatives such as the implementation of 5G leadership package, setting up of new IT parks and corridors and acquiring premium land for their expansion and development.

“A new IT park will be set up in Kannur. For the IT corridor extension, an IT facility covering an area of 5,00,000 sq.ft will be set up in Kollam,” Balagopal said.

A total of Rs 1100 crore was earmarked for the land acquisition for the new IT parks and the expansion and development of the existing ones.

To tap the possibilities of work near home in the IT sector and help engage educated housewives in jobs, Rs 50 crore was earmarked.

For increasing the reach of government service to citizens, 2,000 Wi-Fi hot spots would be established,.

Rs 200 crore for industrial facilitation parks, four science parks at an investment of Rs 1000 crore, an electronic hardware technology hub at an investment of Rs 28 crore, a green mobility technology hub and so on were some among the announcements. A sum of Rs 5 crore was provided to develop 25 industrial parks. Giving thrust to make value-added products in the agriculture sector, the Minister said steps would be taken to produce the products such as ethanol and beverages with low alcoholic content by making use of fruits and other farm produce.

“An amount of Rs two crore is set apart for the project meant for production and other value-added products from tapioca at the Tuber Crops Research Institute here on a pilot basis,” he said.

A marketing company on the model of CIAL with a capital of Rs 100 crore to market the value-added products, the increasing of minimum support price for paddy for providing subsidy to the rubber sector were a relief to the traditional agrarian sector.

Net zero emission by 2050 is the target, he said adding that document ‘Environment Budget’ depicting the environment-related expenses would be presented from 2023-24.

An amount of Rs 30 crore is set apart for undertaking activities related to Sabarimala Master Plan and Rs 1,000 crore for the revival of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.

The minister proposed an airstrip to use 20-40 seater planes, helicopters and for drone-based transport for which

Rs 5 crore was set aside to prepare a pre-engineering feasibility report in this regard.

The champions boat league, a tourism event, would be transformed into an Indian premier league model with 12 venues and cruise tourism connecting Kovalam, Kollam, Kochi, Beypore, Mangaluru and Goa would be launched.

It is intended to set up 28 new fast track special courts at a sum of Rs 8.5 crore in 2022-23 in addition to the existing 28 ones for cases registered under POCSO Act.

On tax proposals, Balagopal said a one-time increase of 10 per cent would be implemented in fair value of land across all segments and the one-time motor vehicle tax on motorcycles costing up to 2 lakh was increased by 1 per cent.

“It is also necessary to discourage the use of diesel vehicles and encourage electric vehicles. The green tax imposed on the old vehicles (above 15 years) is increased by 50 per cent,” he added.

The budget was presented with a proposed revenue expenditure of Rs 157065.89 crore and a projected revenue deficit of Rs 22968.09 crore.

Flaying the Union government, the minister alleged it was stealing power and resources of the States and destroying the democratic structure and federal values.

“The Central government which does not take any measures to overcome economic recession also prevents the State governments from intervention. The Central-State finance relationship has changed in a manner that the resources are for the Central government while the developmental and welfare responsibilities vest with the State governments,” he said.

Hailing the budget, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it was presented with a development-oriented vision, which includes a pragmatic approach on how to overcome the limitations without getting caught up in crises.

Opposition Congress-led UDF criticised the budget by describing it as an unrealistic one.

“The minister presented a budget that was not credible at all. The government has not yet been able to implement 70 per cent of the projects announced in the last budget,” said Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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