Monday, March 18, 2013

Budget holds no promise of poverty eradication: Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that the Andhra Pradesh budget for 2013-14 makes no attempt at enhancing the incomes of people and helping them come out of poverty. And the so-called agricultural budget similarly fails to ensure remunerative prices to farmers and improving their livelihood.

In a media statement, Dr. JP said the Government has shown no signs of learning lessons from the past and undertaking a course correction. In fact, the budget indicates that Andhra Pradesh is headed for more troubled times going by the debt ballooning from Rs.82000 crore six years ago to Rs.180000 crore now, the interest burden almost doubling to Rs.15000 crore a year, pension liabilities leapfrogging by three times, and revenue surplus declining steeply.

Dr. JP noted that liquor accounted for Rs.20000 crore of the State's Rs.87000 crore tax revenue.

Although the Government's entire focus is on 17 percent of funds earmarked for welfare schemes, it has not shown any imagination in ensuring their proper utilization. For instance, entitlements to welfare schemes could have been linked to beneficiaries sending their children to school. No attempt has been made to improve the appallingly low standards of school education in the State. A per capita grant of Rs.1000 to people in both urban and rural areas which amounts to just five percent of the Rs.160000-crore budget would have helped local governments address immediate and pressing concerns of people.

There is no wonder that the State continues to face perpetual power shortage as the budget allocates a mere Rs.600 crore for capital works since 90 percent of the Rs.8000 crore to the sector goes towards meeting revenue deficit of power utilities.

Dr. JP pointed out that the money allocated to agriculture and allied sectors is Rs.1000 crore less than in the previous year. Yet the Government has the temerity to claim a higher allocation of 24 percent by mischievously taking credit for an increase in bank loans to farmers. The Government has made no effort to remove illegal restrictions on movement of agricultural produce or improve storage, processing and value addition or provide pledge loans. A paltry Rs.100 crore has been allocated towards the market stabilization fund whereas the requirement is 30 to 40 times more.

The Government has squandered the opportunity of ensuring better outcomes in every sector. The budget is totally unimaginative and merely an exercise in presenting more of the same.

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