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'Realistic' or 'strong', Budget should benefit people

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Telangana State Budget has undergone a transformation this year. While it was a ‘realistic budget’ presented by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in...

Telangana State Budget has undergone a transformation this year. While it was a 'realistic budget' presented by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in 2019, this time it is a 'strong budget'.

What it means in real terms would be known only when the revised estimations would be presented next year. Till then it will continue to be strong. What is a realistic budget and what is a strong budget? Is realistic budget not a strong one? Or is strong budget not realistic?

Chandrashekhar has complimented the Budget presented by Finance Minister T Harish Rao for the financial year 2020-2021 and said it was a balanced one. Now again what does it mean? A budget is supposed to be more balanced year after year.

Normally the Opposition criticises every budget as jugglery of figures. But this time it appears this budget is a jugglery of words. A cursory look at the budget indicates that the capital expenditure did not get much attention in the total budget outlay of Rs 1 .82 lakh crore.

In the run up to the budget 2020-21, the Chief Minister had made several statements that his government would present a 'realistic budget' against the backdrop of recession but not increase the budget size for 'false pride.' So, do we conclude that a hike of about 24 percent is not false pride?

The government, which in 2014 promised two bedroom houses for the poor but could not fulfil the promise at a speed which it dreamt of, now seems to be in a mood to reduce its burden by offering Rs 6 lakh if people want to construct houses on their own or if they have land to do so.

It however promised to complete the ongoing works on 2 BHK houses. The State's revenue growth rate has fallen to 6.3 percent this fiscal due to "erratic and inadequate release of funds from the Central government." But still the government claims that it will not only achieve the target set for 2020-21 but there will be substantial increase.

It is pinning hopes on mopping up revenue from sale of land and liquor. The liquor prices were hiked by 20 percent in December. It now would also give permissions for opening of more bars.

Apparently, the government does not want to kill the golden goose and talk of total prohibition in a phased manner like its friendly government in the neighbouring Telugu State Andhra Pradesh has been doing. May be in this aspect, it is realistic budget.

The capital expenditure has been pegged at Rs 22,061.18 crore while revenue expenditure will be Rs 1,38, 669.82 crore. The highlight of the budget is the government decision to implement the farm loan waiver scheme beginning this month.

The government has allocated Rs 6,225 crore for this purpose that will benefit over five lakh farmers in the State who have loans of less than Rs 25,000. The government also claimed that there was no reduction in funds pertaining to welfare programmes.

Notwithstanding the adverse impact of recession, it would increase the beneficiaries of the welfare schemes as the government feels that the antidote to economic recession is to enhance people's purchasing power step by step and by spending resources on capital expenditure. Let's hope it will succeed in its efforts.

The Budget also promises to provide a major boost to the infrastructure in Hyderabad and for this it has allocated Rs 10,000 crore for various developmental works including purification of the Musi and the Musi riverfront. KTR thanked the government for this.

Most of this would be spent on SRDP projects to strengthen the road network. But the Minister should focus on basic issues like improving the sanitation in the city. It is heartening to hear him speak very high about the capital city. But in many places still garbage is being burnt on main roads just below residential complexes.

A lot has been boasted about separation of wet and dry garbage and two plastic bins per house were distributed but it has been a non-starter as no one is doing it and even if someone does, the garbage collectors dump everything in their vehicles.

What the common man wants is realistic implementation of assurances not big words like realistic budget or strong budget.

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