Ramakrishnudu presents modest-sized budget for AP

S.Nagesh Kumar

HYDERABAD:  Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu presented a modest-sized budget of Rs.1.13 lakh crore for 2015-16 clearly indicating that Andhra Pradesh was still reeling from the after-effects of bifurcation and from the meager allocation of funds by the Centre. This is just 1.1 per cent more than last year’s budget.

“Bifurcation of the State has left the State without resources even for a meaningful plan outlay” said Mr. Ramakrishnudu while presenting the budget in the A. P. Assembly on Thursday.

This was in reference to the huge mismatch between the plan size of Rs. 34,412 crore and non-plan expenditure of Rs.78,976 crore. Rarely has the non-plan expenditure comprising salaries, pension and other recurring expenditure been double the size of the plan which is an index of future growth and development.

This budget outlay itself is less than the size of Telangana’s budget of Rs. 1.15 lakh crore. Also, against the revenue surplus of Rs. 531 crore in the Telangana budget, the AP budget had a huge revenue deficit of Rs. 7,300 crore apart from a massive fiscal deficit of Rs. 17,584 crore.

Ramakrishnudu takes Finance Commission, Centre to task  

Like his Telangana counterpart E. Rajender, the A. P. Finance Minister was also critical of the 14th Finance Commission and the Centre for not giving the required funds. They had let down Andhra Pradesh at a time when it needed handholding, he said.

Mr. Ramakrishnudu devoted considerable time in his two-hour long speech to run down the Centre for dividing Andhra Pradesh in a manner that was characterized by “lack of development vision, strategic direction, rampant corruption and failure of governance”.  The successor State of Andhra Pradesh was not compensated for the loss of opportunity caused to people due to division of the State.

Painting a dark and gloomy picture of AP’s finances, he said “the State continues to reel under revenue deficit and this deficit continues even after the last year of the award of the 14th Finance Commission.  Our debt burden and fiscal deficit will continue to increase as we keep borrowing to meet revenue expenditure”.

The Finance Minister said the State had requested the Finance Commission to grant a sum of Rs.1 lakh crore for construction of the capital and Rs. 41,253 crore for other critical infrastructure requirements. But, it provided only Rs. 22,113 crore as revenue deficit grant and Rs. 1,823 crore towards disaster management.

‘A realistic and practical budget’

Describing his budget as “realistic and practical”, Mr. Ramakrishnudu said the Telugu Desam Government had taken care to protect the interests of the vulnerable sections, agriculture, irrigation, social and physical infrastructure while increasing the outlay on capital works to Rs. 9,818 crore.

On a brighter note, he said the encouraging aspect of the State economy was that all the three sectors — agriculture, industry and services — had contributed to the State‘s economy. Proving once again that AP is a predominantly agricultural economy, the share of agriculture had increased to 27.59% while the share of industries and services had dipped marginally to 20.62 % and 51.79 % respectively.

Mr. Ramakrishnudu said that in with the line of thinking on Sunrise Andhra Pradesh, the Government had launched seven missions, five campaigns and five grids to accelerate development and ensure welfare of the people. He announced that a comprehensive sub-plan for the Backward Classes would be prepared on the lines of the SC and Tribal Sub Plans.

Referring to the debt relief scheme for farmers over which the Government has drawn flak for excluding large sections of the ryots on various pretexts, he said a sum of Rs. 5,000 crore had been released in the first phase. The second phase was being finalized, he added a bit vaguely.

Minister upbeat on capital construction

On building a new capital in Guntur-Vijayawada for which a sum of Rs. 3,168 crore was proposed in the budget, the Finance Minister said it would be “a truly world class people’s capital”. It would be a place for creativity and innovation. This would require meticulous planning for the very long term infrastructure needs of the future generations.

He said about 87 per cent of land owners had given consent for pooling their land for the capital city consisting of 33,252 acres. About 50 per cent of this land would be used for common infrastructure and 25 per cent returned to the land owners in the form of developed reconstituted plots.

This would leave about 7,000 acres of land with the State for building its capital complex and for bringing investments to provide sustainable jobs to the residents. It was proposed to return the developed land to the owners, construct the capital complex and bring the threshold level of jobs over the next three years.

“The consent of farmers is a historical event and the Government gratefully acknowledges their contribution”, Mr. Ramakrishnudu said.

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