If there ever was a budget where the government could have gotten away with grotesque welfare spending, it was this one. The YSRCP ruling does know we are in the middle of a pandemic and perhaps the worst economic crisis of our lifetime. In its second budget after riding to power with a massive mandate of 151 seats in the Assembly, Finance Minister Buganna Rajendranath presented a Budget plan on Wednesday with grotesque welfare spending but with no roadmap for improving the State’s financial health or drive growth in industry and service sectors. As many as 22 welfare schemes are incorporated in the Budget while there is no mention of how the Andhra Pradesh government will tide over the corona virus crisis.
Finance minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy on Tuesday presented the state budget with an outlay of Rs 2.20 lakh crore for 2020-21 which is less than the previous fiscal outlay of Rs 2.27 lakh crore (2019-2020) due to slowdown during the Covid-19 pandemic. The finance minister pegged revenue expenditure at Rs 1.80 lakh, while capital expenditure including loan repayments and other capital disbursement at Rs 44,396 crore. Revenue deficit was pegged at around R. 18,434 crore, while fiscal Deficit was estimated at around R. 48,295 crore. The fiscal deficit will be around 4.78 % of the GSDP, while revenue deficit will be around 1.82 % of the GSDP.
The Andhra Pradesh government, in its second Budget, had mainly focussed on its election manifesto’s Navaratnalu — the nine welfare schemes covering farmers, women, medical and health, education and Special Category Status (SCS).
Of the total outlay of ₹2.24 lakh crore, a whopping Rs 35,774 crore has been allotted to SC/BC and minority welfare (Rs 23,406 crore to BC welfare, Rs 7,525 crore to SC welfare, Rs 2,845 crore to Kapu welfare and 1,998 crore to minority welfare. A lion’s share of the Budget was allocated to the YSRCP’s election manifesto of Navaratnalu, including Rs 16,000 crore for YSR Pension, Rs 6,300 crore for YSR Asara, Rs 6,000 crore for Amma Vodu, Rs 3,615 crore for YSR Rythu Bharosa, Rs 3,009 crore for Jaganna Vidya Devenne, more than Rs 3,000 crore for YSR Cheyutha, Rs 2,000 crore for Jaganna Vasati Devenne, Rs 1,100 crore for interest- free loans, Rs 350 crore for YSR Kapu Nestham, Rs 275 crore for YSR Vahana Mitra, Rs 247 crore Jagananna Chedodu, Rs 200 crore for Netanna Nestham and a host of other schemes either named after late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy or Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy (YSJ). A staggering more than Rs 80,000 crore has been allotted to both SC/BC, minority welfare and YSR and YSJ schemes.
The government which claims to be farmer friendly has allotted a mere Rs 11,891 crore or 1 per cent of the entire Budget outlay on the agriculture sector, another one per cent on the healthcare sector or Rs 11,419 crore. The YSRCP ruling probably does know we are in the middle of a pandemic and perhaps the worst economic crisis of our lifetime. Another flagship scheme Aarogyasri, the universal health scheme, has been allocated Rs 2,100 crore. All households with an annual income of less than Rs 5 lakh are eligible to avail the scheme.
The TDP slammed the government saying it lacked vision, no strategic idea or anything concrete in the Budget and it described the hollow approach of the government that was all big talk. No allocations for water, power and roads were made. It lacked a plan to deal with the economic slowdown, inflation or many measures to push employment in the state. The state government seems to have given up developing Amaravati as no mention was made in the Budget. The Budget has not mentioned construction of capital, industrial development or development of backward areas. Further, no measures were announced to revive the economy or accelerate the growth rate or promote and attract private investment or increase efficiency or create jobs in Andhra Pradesh.