Kerala Budget gives Rs 1,000 cr boost for key projects

Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal launched a scathing attack on the central government, accusing it of causing financial hardship for Kerala…reports Asian Lite News

Kerala Finance Minister K. N. Balagopal presented the Kerala Budget 2024-25 today, outlining a vision for a “New Kerala” while criticizing the central government’s “hostile approach” that he claims has pushed the state towards financial crisis.

Balagopal launched a scathing attack on the central government, accusing it of causing financial hardship for Kerala. He asserted that the state wouldn’t remain silent and urged unity to build a “Navakeralam.”

” Instead, we should strive forward with the strong sentiment of “Thakarilla Keralam, Thalarilla Keralam, Thakarkkanavilla Keralathe” (“Kerala will not be shattered, Kerala will not tire, Kerala cannot be destroyed”). The Government will provide leadership in taking forward our achievements and progress while ensuring that all Keralites stand united in building a New Keralam (Navakeralam).” K. N. Balagopal said this in the assembly.

The budget proposes a 10 rupee per litre hike in excise duty on liquor, raising concerns for consumers. Additionally, electricity duty for self-generated power will rise by 15 paise per unit.

The budget allocates 1,000 crore for projects proposed during the outreach program “Navakerala Sadass.” Tourism receives a significant boost, with 5,000 crore earmarked for development.

The much-awaited Vizhinjam port is set to be operational by May 2024. The government plans to create Special Development Zones (SDZs) in partnership with the private sector to leverage the port’s potential. An International Investors Meet and Maritime Summit are planned to attract investments.

The budget reaffirms the government’s commitment to the K-Rail project and light metro projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.

Public education receives a 1,032 crore allocation, highlighting the government’s commitment to the sector.

The budget also encourages private investment across various sectors. While the budget doesn’t increase welfare pensions this year, the minister promised to clear pending dues in the next financial year, blaming the central government for the delay.

“An International Investors Meet will be conducted in 2024-25 itself to attract investors who can start enterprises that will harness the potential of the Vizhinjam port. A Maritime Summit will be organized as part of this,” K. N. Balagopal said.

Private & foreign universities

Not long ago the Left in Kerala had opposed any form of privatization in the higher education sector, but on Monday, state Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal while presenting his fourth straight budget said the doors have been opened for private and foreign universities to open their campus.

As the first step for this, he said four international educational conclaves will be held outside the country.

For this, experts hailing from Kerala and those working in the higher education sector abroad will be drafted for taking forward this idea.

To fast track this idea, special packages will be introduced in the field of higher education.

Balagopal pointed out that all these changes were being made to ensure to attract foreign students to Kerala besides helping students from here presently going abroad for higher studies.

All along the CPI(M)-led Left in Kerala had staunchly opposed the entry of private sector in the education sector and when the K. Karunakaran government in the 90s planned to open up a few professional courses in the medical sector and also when the A.K.Antony-led government in 2001 opened up the professional education sector in the self-financing mode, there were huge protests.

Late Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had once remarked, “The bane of Kerala … what matters is which government is bringing in the changes, when the Left does it, everything is fine, as they opposed tractors and even computers, but later changed their stand,”. (ANI)

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