budget presented: Tax-free, 238-crore deficit
The Finance Minister had to frequently take sips from a glass of water a number of times during the long speech. Congress members were mostly quiet during the presentation. When the Finance Minister read out the closing lines of the speech, some Congress members shouted Govinda... Govinda.
Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the government had proposed to spend Rs 14,945.22 crore under non-plan and Rs 4,589.87 crore under State plan during 1998-99. The deficit for the current year (1997-98) was estimated at Rs 46.37 and the next financial year was expected to end with a negative closing balance of Rs 238.45 crore.
Raju expressed confidence that the plan outlay of Rs 3,860.45 crore could be achieved in the current year, notwithstanding the ways and means constraints. The Finance Minister said that budgetary allocation for the next years plan has been increased to Rs 4,678.95 crore, reflecting an increase of 22.8 per cent over the outlay for the current year.
Raju explained that about 26 per cent of the plan outlay was earmarked for the social services sector. While the agriculture and irrigation sectors account for 26 per cent of the plan outlay, energy and transport sectors have been allocated 20 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
Rural and special area development programmes together would get about 14 per cent. The Finance Minister announced enhancement in the outlays for various sectors including irrigation, energy, minorities welfare, education, youth, social welfare and proposed several schemes to be implemented during the next financial year.
He said that the government was giving top priority for completing ongoing irrigation projects and for securing clearance for the pending projects. Speaking about the new proposals to be implemented during 1998-99, Ashok Gajapathi Raju said a junior college and training centre, exclusively for the hearing handicapped, the first of its kind in the State, would be set up at Bapatla.
Youth awards would be instituted for encouraging the spirit of competition and camaraderie. The government has proposed to introduce a new scheme for compulsory education of Scheduled Castes children to enhance their literacy rate to at least 75 per cent by the end of the Ninth Plan.
The government has programmed to upgrade all ashram upper primary schools into ashram high schools, open 77 new ashram schools and establish three new residential schools for tribals.
Under minorities welfare, the government has proposed to launch several new initiatives including assistance to voluntary organisations for conducting health camps, educational rehabilitation of minority destitute women, orphan and child labour.
The government has also planned to extend the District Primary Education Programme to 18 districts with an outlay of Rs 620 crore. The programme is currently under implementation in five districts with an outlay of Rs 240 crore.
The Finance Minister announced that the government has proposed to appoint 39,000 teachers including 10,000 newly created posts during 1998-99.
The government decided to establish five medical colleges in Nizamabad, Mahbubnagar, Adilabad, Nellore and Eluru and start five dental colleges at Vizianagaram, Nalgonda, Tirupathi, Warangal and Ongole.
The government has proposed many anti-poverty programmes with an outlay of Rs 100 crore for the economic development of artisans. Computerisation in all the registration offices would be completed by August 15, 1998.
Ashok Gajapathi Raju explained in detail the increased outlays to various sectors. Giving importance to the irrigation sector, the government, he said, has allocated Rs 1,013.77 crore under plan, 25 per cent higher than the outlay for the current year.
He said that the government had planned to bring 13.80 lakh acres under irrigation and to bridge the ayacut gap of 4.5 lakh acres in the tail-end areas for the existing command areas with an outlay of Rs 5,300 crore in the next three years.
Increasing the allocation for power sector from Rs 918 crore to Rs 921.28 crore, Raju said that overall plant load factor of all thermal power stations has improved from 77.34 per cent last year to 81.91 per cent during the current year, which was above the all-India average of 64.4 per cent.
To meet the growing demand for programmes under the Chief Ministers Empowerment of Youth, the government has stepped up the budgetary outlay from Rs 76 crore to Rs 121 crore.
This quantum jump would provide financial assistance towards matching grant, economic activity, training for 10,000 youth groups with an outlay of Rs 100 crore.
The government also increased the budgetary outlay to Rs 428.79 crore for the next year from Rs 397.74 crore during current year for social welfare, since the main focus was on human resource development.
The Back-to-School programme, which covered 42,014 children in 382 centres with an outlay of Rs 2.22 crore, would cover one lakh working children during this summer vacation, he explained.
The government has enhanced the budget for tribal welfare from Rs 68 crore in the current year to Rs 71.69 crore in 1998-99. The government has provided Rs 8 crore towards maintenance and Rs 3 crore for the construction of Backward Classes Residential Schools besides providing Rs 36.56 crore towards post-matric scholarships to BC students during the current year.
Stating that the government was committed to the development of minorities, Raju said that the annual outlay has been hiked from Rs 25 crore in the current year to Rs 28.37 crore next year. Speaking about education, he said that the government has sanctioned 1,112 new primary schools with an outlay of Rs 32.16 crore.
Primary schools have been strengthened with the creation of 10,647 posts of headmasters. The Finance Minister said that new 1,046 watersheds have been identified and these would be developed with the participation and involvement of stakeholders.
The government, he said, has planned to develop the entire waste land in the State over the next 10 years through comprehensive watershed development with the proactive involvement of the communities. He said that Rs 21 crore has been provided for the development of backward areas.
Expressing concern over the suicides by the cotton growers, he said that these farmers have become victims of the money-lender-pesticide-dealer nexus. This nexus was a result of the vast gap of nearly 80 per cent in the supply and demand for farm credit.
Speaking about the Janma Bhoomi programme, Raju said 72,000 community works at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore have been grounded, of which 31,000 works costing Rs 320 crore have been completed.
He said 6.31 lakh children have been additionally enrolled in schools during the 1997-98 academic year, about 8.11 lakh children were immunised, 9.44 lakh eligible couples were motivated to adopt family planning methods.
Explaining the Vision 2020 articulating the development goals to be achieved by the State by 2020 AD, Raju said that the document was being compiled with the help of an internationally reputed consultancy firm and was expected to be finalised in a months time.
Budget at a glance
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