Isaac presents a Balanced Budget Pinning Hopes on KIIFB


Thiruvananthapuram: Terming IT, Tourism and appropriate medium and large-scale industries as engines of future economic growth of Kerala, Dr. T M Thomas Isaac, State Finance Minister, has earmarked an amount of Rs. 1375 crore for these sectors in the State Budget for the year 2017-18. The increase is 27 per cent compared to the outlay of 2016-17, the Minister said in his Budget speech on Monday.

Coming down heavily on the Central Government’s demonetisation act, Isaac, while presenting the budget, said an increase of 10.4 per cent is ensured in the Plan outlay of 2017-18 fiscal even under adverse conditions. “The plan outlay of 2016-17 amounting to Rs. 24,000 crore is raised to Rs. 26,500 crore. Including the Centrally-sponsored schemes, the annual plan outlay is Rs. 34,539 crore. Not only plan expenditure but non-plan expenditure will also increase considerably. The liability of Pay Revision Arrears has to be settled during 2017-18,” he said.

According to Isaac, the financial year will come to a close with work orders to KIIFB projects touching Rs. 15,000 crore. “The approved projects are at the initial stages of implementation. During 2017-18, projects worth Rs. 15,000 crore will move to execution. The second anti-recession package announced last year will be implemented during 2017-18. In addition to this, another set of construction works worth Rs.20,000 crore are being announced by KIIFB during the year 2017-18. When these two are combined, it will be the highest investment project in the history of Kerala. This will be the most effective defence against recession during the period of demonetisation,” he said.

Major proposals of LDF Government’s 2017-18 Budget include:

The total outlay for IT sector is Rs. 549 crore with major thrust on the construction of IT Parks. This include Rs. 84 crore for Technopark, Rs.67 crore for Infopark and Rs.25 crore for Cyberpark; Rs.55 crore for IT Parks in Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasargod and Koratty and also for Techno Lodges. By the year 2020, one lakh IT jobs will be created at Infopark while Technopark will generate 75,000 jobs.

An amount of Rs.10 crore is earmarked for Technology Innovation Centre. An outlay of Rs. 70 crore has been made for Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, which is a bouquet of several new and innovative schemes such as startup box campaign, startup boot camps, partner network, startup i3, entrepreneurship visit programme, Fab-Lab programme, innovation fund, seed fund etc. KSIDC and KFC will extend financial support to 1500 startups.

An amount of Rs.100 crore is earmarked for Kerala State IT Mission which is the nodal agency of government for service delivery intervention in the IT sector. The budget also set apart Rs. 52 crore for Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Rs.22.5 crore for IITK, Pala and Rs.5 crore each for International Centre for Free and Open Source Software and C-DIT.

The budget also envisages setting up of 12 hardware parks as part of making Kerala an IT hardware manufacturing hub. Similarly, a Japanese-Korean industrial cluster will also be established at Mavoor in Kozhikode.

Tourism has emerged as a service industry which contributes 10 per cent of the State revenue. Taking this into consideration, the Finance Minister has earmarked Rs.75 crore for marketing tourism products of the State. Rs.15 crore has also been set apart for encouraging and propagating Nishagandhi dance and music festivals, Onam celebrations, tribal dance festival, Pooram, Theyyam festivals, boat race etc. An additional allocation of Rs. 5 crore has been made for encouraging the traditional boat race of the State.

In addition to these, an amount of Rs. 22 crore is set apart for various tourism institutions, including Kerala Tourism Development Corporation while Rs.12 crore is provided for District Tourism Promotion Councils. The budget also provided Rs.31 crore for the upgradation of tourism guest houses and also for construction of new blocks in Guruvayoor, Thiruvananthapuram, Sulthan Bathery, Peerumedu, Kozhikode, Ponmudi and Munnar. The Muziris Heritage Project and the Thalassery, Alappuzha spice route, that is to be taken up, get a budgetary support of Rs. 40 crore.

An amount of Rs.400 crore has been earmarked in the last budget from KIIFB for the development of infrastructure facilities in the tourism destinations of Dharmadam-Muzhippilangadu, Kannur Fort, Arakkal palace, Karappuzha-Wayanad, Chethi-Mararikkulam, Thrissur-Guruvayur-Paliyoor circuit, Akkulam, Ponnani and Ponmudi. Detailed project reports are being prepared for these projects.

An amount of Rs.80 crore has been set apart in the current year’s plan for infrastructure development at the tourist destinations of Kovalam, Kumarakam, Thekkady, Munnar, Fort Kochi, Athirappally, Wayanad, Varkala, Neyyar, Ashtamudi, Thenmala, Sabarimala, Vembanad, Vagamon, Cherai, Peechi, Guruvayur, Malambuzha, Nelliyampathi, Nila, Nilambur, Kappad, Irinjal and Thusharagiri and Rs.40 crore for other minor destinations. Pathiramanal Ecotourism Project will be revived. A master plan will be formulated for the development of tourism by linking the backwaters and rivers in Malabar.

Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-FON)

Kerala is poised to become one of the few states where internet facility will be the right of a citizen. Free internet connections will be provided to 20 lakh poor families. For others, internet service will be provided at a lower rate. The universal basic internet facility will be made available to all citizens and government offices through a new optic fibre pathway laid parallel to KSEB electric power network. This network can be made available to each home through KSEB. It is aimed to complete the network, to be named K-FON, within 18 months. Rs. 1000 crore needed for the capital investment will be provided through KIIFB.

In the year 2016-17, the total outlay for heavy and medium industries was Rs.291 crore. This is now enhanced to Rs.482 crore. Revival of loss-making public sector undertakings has been accorded great importance by the LDF Government. The allocation for Public Sector Undertakings has been enhanced from Rs.100 crore to Rs. 270 crore.

Other proposals

  • Government to spend Rs. 150 crore on water conservation projects. Revival of water bodies will be taken up under NREGA
  • Free treatment for life-style diseases. Primary health sector to get Rs. 2,000 crore. These health centres will provide free diabetes, cholesterol drugs
  • Budget makes provisions for creation of over more than 5,000 medical posts, including that of doctors
  • Rs. 10 crore allocated for sewage maintenance. Efforts will be on to bring an end for manual scavenging
  • One lakh houses to be built for the homeless this year
  • 2500 new teacher posts to be created
  • 45,000 smart classrooms to be made ready by 2018
  • Rs. 201 crore for soil and land conservation
  • Rs. 150 crore for water conservation
  • Rs. 350 crore allocated for the Karunya scheme
  • Three crore trees to be planted in three years and Rs. 50 crore has been allotted for scientific landfills
  • Special health insurance for the differently-abled, the aged, BPL families and other vulnerable sections. Around Rs. 250 crore has been allotted for the welfare of differently-abled people. There will be 5 per cent reservation to the differently-abled in higher education
  • Autism parks in all districts. Special focus on autistic children and their physiotherapy and behavioral therapy
  • Rs. 100 crore for the Smart City mission
  • Rs. 2600 crore announced for SC welfare and Rs. 750 crore for ST welfare
  • Rs. 4 crore allotted for the revival of Agraharams in Kerala
  • Rs. 10 crore for pepper and cardamom farming
  • Rs. 500 crore to stabilise the rubber base price
  • Water taxis to ply on the Ernakulam-Kumarakom-Muhamma route
  • Rs. 2 crore for marine ambulances