Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu has presented a Rs.1.35 lakh-crore budget for the financial year 2016-17, over 20 per cent higher than the previous year even as the allocations reflected the government's efforts to strike a fine balance between development and welfare.
At a time when the State's finances were not in a comfortable zone due to the overhang of Rs. 13,897-crore revenue deficit and for want of sufficient handholding from the Centre, the Finance Minister made substantial allocation to the Plan budget pegged at Rs. 49,134.44 crore and the non-plan expenditure at Rs. 86,555 crore. The revenue deficit for the next fiscal is pegged at Rs. 4,868 crore and the fiscal deficit at Rs. 20,497 crore, constituting 0.71 per cent and 2.9 per cent of the GSDP respectively.
Plan allocation:- The enhancement of the Plan allocation comes in the light of the achievement of significant milestone during the current fiscal where the State for the first time had incurred Rs. 38,671 crore Plan expenditure, over Rs. 4,000 crore higher than the provisioned Rs. 34,412 crore. At the same time, revised estimates pointed out that the non-plan expenditure dropped from the projected Rs. 78,636 crore to Rs. 73,545 crore, marking a 6.5 per cent decline.
Austerity measures:- This could be achieved by putting in place a series of fiscal prudence measures, Mr. Ramakrishnudu said in a chat with media persons later. The government had accordingly decided to make significant allocation to welfare in the form of the SC (Rs. 8,724 crore),ST (Rs. 3,100 crore) and BC (Rs. 8,832 crore) sub-plans amounting to around Rs. 21,000 crore while equal emphasis was laid on education sector where allocations exceeded Rs. 20,000 crore with secondary education (Rs. 17,502.65 crore) getting a lion's share as also higher education (Rs. 2,644.64 crore).
The budget, however, relied heavily on Central assistance anticipating transfer of Rs. 24,637 crore as share of central taxes and another Rs. 26,849 crore as grants-in-aid. The State's own tax revenue is pegged at Rs. 52,318 crore with sales tax contributing a major chunk of Rs. 37,435 crore followed by excise (Rs. 5,756 crore), stamps& registration (Rs. 5,180 crore) and MV Tax (Rs. 2,412 crore). The non-tax revenue for the current year had been pegged at Rs. 5,495 crore of which income from mines and minerals was estimated at Rs. 1,705 crore and forest Rs. 922 crore.
Mr. Ramakrishnudu said notwithstanding the challenges like construction of capital city Amaravati that would require around Rs. 18,000 crore in the next three years, massive investment needed for improving infrastructure, the government looked at the future with optimism. Higher plan investment had flown into key drivers like energy and infrastructure (Rs. 4,020.31 crore), panchayat raj and rural development (Rs. 16,115 crore) and water resources department (Rs. 7,978 crore).
In addition, the government had made provision of Rs. 1,000 crore for the Kapu Development Corporation, an increase of ten times over the previous year's Rs. 100 crore to help the community advance on economic front. The allocation assumes significance in the wake of Kapu leader Mudragada Padmanabham threatening to go on indefinite fast seeking reservations to Kapu community. The allocation for the next instalment of debt redemption scheme was pegged at Rs. 3,512 crore and allocation to the power and rice subsidy schemes too were impressive at Rs. 3,586 crore and Rs. 2,519 crore respectively.
He said allocation of Rs. 3,660 crore had been made for the Polavaram project and Rs. 1,500 crore for the capital city construction works with anticipation that the Centre would reimburse the amounts spent sooner than later.