Saturday, February 20, 2010

Statusquoist budget highlights Prudent fiscal management: Lok Satta

The Lok Satta Party today characterized the Andhra Pradesh Government’s budget for 2010-11 as status quoist even as it commended the State’s prudent fiscal management.

Talking to the media, party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan pointed out that despite the economic slowdown all over the country, the State Government has succeeded in reining in fiscal deficit to less than three percent of the gross State domestic product from the earlier 3.6 percent. The State, which recorded a revenue surplus of Rs.2900 crore in 2009-10, anticipates a revenue surplus of Rs. 3500 crore in 2010-11.

The decline in capital expenditure from about Rs.17000 crore in 2009-10 to Rs.14000 crore in 2010-11 is, however, a matter of serious concern, he said.

Dr. JP also praised the State Government for attracting a huge chunk of funds from the Government of India under schemes like the NREGS. During 2010-11, the State has budgeted for a receipt of Rs.28,000 crore of Government of India funds, besides a Plan assistance of Rs.3700 crore.

Paradoxically, the State Government, which is a beneficiary of Government of India largesse, would not devolve its resources on local governments. Centralization of power and spending continues unabated.

Dr. JP said that in its bid to placate MLAs the State Government planned to allocate Rs.1 crore to each MLA for taking up constituency developmental schemes. The Lok Satta would oppose the scheme and demand allocation of the fund to local bodies.

The State Government should have shown budgetary allocations region and district wise, in the context of the regional agitations sweeping the State.

Dr. JP welcomed the belated focus of the State Government on improving road infrastructure, undertaking gas exploration, and developing a petrochemical region along the coast. Sadly, there is no reference to development of an industrial gas grid in the State as in Gujarat. Andhra Pradesh attracted private investments worth only Rs.8400 crore outside the SEZs during 2009-10 because of poor infrastructure and perpetual power shortages.

The Government continued to lay emphasis on power generation and ignore power distribution. For instance, only 500,000 of the nearly three million pump-sets are supplied high-tension power.

Dr. JP regretted the State Government did not display any original thinking in addressing the twin issues of poverty elimination and provision of livelihood opportunities. Ensuring delivery of quality education and health care, enhancement of livelihood skills and development of small towns would go a long way in solving both the problems.

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