This time, the budget that was presented by the KCR-led BRS government was populist and focused on welfare programs, totaling Rs 2.9 lakh crore aimed to get benefit on elections 2023.

The Telangana government, led by Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, placed a strong emphasis on social programmes in the state budget, which saw a 13% rise from last year’s allocation, in preparation for elections that are expected to take place later this year.

The budget has been dubbed “populist” by analysts who claim that the government is seeking to “appease all factions.”

State Finance Minister Harish Rao unveiled the budget for the fiscal year 2023–2024 on Monday. The budget’s outlay (including public debt) increased from the previous year’s level of Rs. 2.56 lakh crore to Rs. 2.90 lakh crore. While it was expected that the revenue expenditure would be Rs 2,11,685 crore, the capital expenditure was at Rs 37,525 crore.

The revenue expenditure and capital expenditure components of a state’s budget are divided (Capex). While revenue expenditures include wages, interest payments, and funding for social programmes, capital expenditures include funds allocated for infrastructure, agricultural, educational, and health-related initiatives.

Rao charged that the federal government was “creating barriers” and impeding Telangana’s progress when presenting the budget. “Even as Telangana has been achieving significant development through its own efforts, the central government has been putting up hurdles after hurdles,” Rao said, mentioning how the government used off-budget borrowings well within the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act’s parameters to complete irrigation projects as quickly as possible.

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According to the FRBM Act, the fiscal deficit of a government should not exceed 3 per cent of its total GDP.

The finance minister also criticised the central government decision to reduce the state government’s borrowing limit. “During the current year, based on our economic performance and borrowing limits, an amount of Rs 53,970 crore has been included in the Budget as borrowings. This was approved by this August House. But the Central government unilaterally imposed a cut of Rs 15,033 crore and reduced our borrowing limits to Rs.38,937 crore,” he said.

The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for the state increased 15.6 per cent from 2021-2022 to Rs 13.27 lakh crore for FY 2022-23.

In the latest state budget, schemes such as Kalyana Lakshmi and Shaadi Mubarak — where girls aged 18 and above, hailing from SC/ST and minority communities, receive one-time cash assistance for marriage — saw an increase of 16 per cent in the budget allocation (estimate). About Rs 3,210 crore was allotted in the 2023-2024 financial year, while Rs 2,750 crore was allotted in 2022-2023 year.

The budget (estimate) kept aside for agriculture and allied sectors for 2023-2024 saw a 10 per cent increase from the previous year, with an allocation of Rs 24,254 crore. The sector includes schemes such as CM’s brainchild Rythu Bandhu which gives cash assistance to farmers in two cropping seasons (Kharif and Rabi) and other welfare schemes such as Rythu Bhima (insurance to families of deceased farmers), farm loan waivers.

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The budget for old age pensions (Aasara pensions), in 2023-2024, was at Rs 12,000 crore, an increase of 2.3 percent from 2022-2023.

The Scheduled Caste Special Development Fund (SCSDF) was allotted Rs 36,750 crore, an increase of 8 per cent from 2022-2023 when Rs 33, 937 crore was allotted. 

Under this, a significant amount of Rs 17,770 crore has been assigned for KCR’s flagship welfare program named Dalit Bandhu which gives Rs 10 lakh cash assistance to eligible Dalit families across the state. The same amount was set aside in the 2022 financial year too. For the welfare of Scheduled Tribe Community, the government set aside Rs 15,233 crore, an increase of 20 per cent from last time.

The minority welfare department budget (estimate) saw a 25 per cent increase for the upcoming fiscal year compared to 2022-2023. The latest budget allotted Rs 2,200 crore for the same. 

An amount of Rs 6,229 crore has been set aside for the welfare of Backward Community in 2023-2024, an increase compared to Rs 5,698 crore in 2022-financial year.

The state government set aside Rs 19,093 crore (estimate) for the education sector in 2023-2024. The allocation for the sector in the 2022-23 budget was Rs 19, 580 crore.

Krishna Reddy Chittedi, assistant professor at the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad, told #Khabarlive: “Almost every social sector category saw an increase in budget allocation. Very clearly this is the government completely trying to please all sections of state, appeasing all the sections, especially those which are a major vote bank.  So, overall it is a populist and attractive budget. This also comes at a time when KCR wants to establish his party as a national party, he has been making efforts, so there is eye on state’s budget. Especially, on sectors where he made promises of welfare.” 

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Reddy pointed out how sectors such as education got a raw deal with no major difference in budget allocation, compared to previous years. Ever since the state formation, in 2014, Telangana’s budget share allotted to education has seen a decline. 

“It seems that the CM has a hatred against the education sector. The recruitment of new instructors and their preparation must be the main priorities. Without skill development training, he continued, “How else can the next generation benefit? How will they be prepared for jobs?” He also mentioned Telangana’s government schools’ severe teacher shortage.

“KCR has always been a supporter of welfare… He made sure that welfare did not suffer cuts this time around, but rather experienced an increase. The question is how much of it will last beyond the election. There won’t be much of a change, though, given his leadership. During the budget presentation, much time was also devoted to demonstrating how the state is operating even without the cash from the funds or the hurdles created by the Centre. They wanted to create that perception,” economic and political analyst D. Papa Rao told. #hydnews #hydkhabar #hydlive