CM Siddaramaiah announced Karnataka’s budget for 2o18-19 on 16th February. The budget is no doubt a deal breaker in the upcoming elections. Following Modi’s mantra of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas‘ Siddaramaiah has presented an optimistic plan which will decide who his voters will be.
With the budget, Siddarmaiah set out to interpret the real meaning of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas‘. He also pointed out that the budget isn’t an ‘election’ budget but rather a ‘sensible’ one.
He answered the opposition’s obvious question by saying, “It is prudent keeping in mind the fact that we will be voted back into power and will have to implement it.“
The focus of the budget seems to be the farmers and women. Agriculture has been allocated 5,849 crores as per the budget as compared to last year’s 5080 crores. A new dry-land scheme has been made for farmers named ‘Raitha Belaku’. Farmers will also be able to take loans up to 10 lakhs at 3% interest. 203 crores will be spent on marketing organic agricultural products.
Women will be given free education up till their post-graduation. All-women business parks have also been announced in six places across the state. The government will also set up ‘Nirbhaya Kendras’ for women’s safety. Women police stations will be one-stop service centres. Toilets for women will also be built at all police stations.
Students, healthcare and households
Students will be given free bus passes for 19.6 lakh students around the state. A grant of 2 crores has been given to developing the Basava study centre at the University of Mysore. The CM has also introduced a new healthcare scheme called ‘Aarogya Karnataka’ which has been allocated 1,500 crores. The ‘Mukhyamantri Anila Bhagya Yojna’ with an outlay of 1,350 crores will provide LPG connections for free and twin burner stoves along with refills to three million households. Grants will be given for inter-caste marriages, to eradicate untouchability as well. Rupees 2 lakhs-3 lakhs will be given when a scheduled caste boy marries a girl from another caste. Rupees 3lakhs to 5 lakhs will be given when a scheduled caste girl marries a boy from another caste. An incentive has also been announced between 3 and 5 lakhs for the marriage of female and male children of Devadasis.
In 2017-18 over 6,000 crore rupees was set aside for the city. In 2018-19 only 2,500 crore rupees is being given for projects in the city. This is 58.9% drop from last year. But, there is also a spillover of development projects from last year amounting to 2,441 crores. Money is being specially set aside for the rejuvenation of lakes, 50 crores are being directed towards reviving Bellandur lake alone. To improve water supply to Bengaluru 340 crores, have been granted which is immense. Air quality monitoring stations will also be developed. 247 crores are being given to the IT-BT sector. Roads will be developed to ease traffic in Bengaluru especially to ITPL.
The government is granting money for the Smart City project which will have projects costing 500 crores each. With regard to the BWSSB, the unaccounted for water will reduce to 37%. Technical and commercial leakage of water was reduced from 49% to 40% in 2017-18 and will be reduced to 37% in 2018-19. The phase 2 of Namma Metro will open to the public by March 2021. The Phase 3 of the metro now has a detailed plan as a 10.55 km line. The total length of the metro with all three phases will be 266 Km.
The work on the Bengaluru suburban rail will also begin for which 280 crores have been released. Just for cycling infrastructure in tier-2 cities, 25 crores is being provided. KSRTC will also be purchasing 20 double-decker buses, this is a first for any state in India. Rs. 147 crores are also being given to e-governance of the state. At a cost of 5 crores, Cyber Forensic Laboratories are also being set up.
Financial Stability of the state
Siddaramaiah pointed out that the GSDP has grown to 8.5% from 7.5% in the previous year. The fiscal discipline has been maintained so far at 2.54% and it is projected to go down to 2.49% in the coming year. The state’s liabilities are also under the limit of 25% and are projected in 2018-19 to be 20.54%.
Thoughts on the budget
This is the first time the budget has crossed 2 lakh crores to stand at 2,09,181 crore rupees. This is 12.2% increase from last year. This is also the 13th budget that Siddaramaiah has presented as the finance minister of the state. But the budget didn’t go by without facing criticism from BJP’s Yeddyurappa. He said that Siddaramaiah through the budget was trying to appease all the sections of society. He expressed faith that the budget will not be implemented. The budget has also been described as a manifesto of sorts. But, the challenge from Congress stands.