Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath on Thursday presented the state’s annual budget for the financial year 2023-24 in the Assembly.
It had an outlay of ₹2,79,279 crore, with revenue expenditure estimated at ₹2,28,540 crore, and capital expenditure at ₹31,061 crore.
The estimated revenue deficit is around ₹22,316 crore, and the fiscal deficit is estimated at around ₹54,587 crore.
The fiscal deficit is expected to be around 3.77 percent of the GSDP, whereas the revenue deficit will be around 1.54 percent.
As expected, major allocations were made to several infrastructure schemes, besides those meant for the welfare of backward classes, farmers, and women.
Around ₹29,690.71 crore was allocated to the education sector and ₹15,882.34 crore for medical, health, and family welfare.
Around ₹3,500 crore was allocated for the Mana Badi Nadu Nedu scheme, under which the government has been improving the infrastructure standards of government schools.
For social security pensions under the YSR Pension Kanuka scheme, a whopping ₹21,434.72 crore was allocated.
Buggana Rajendranath said the old-age monthly pension would be enhanced to ₹3,000 from the next calendar year, as promised in the manifesto.
The state government pays social security pensions to beneficiaries under various categories through the YSR Pension Kanuka.
The agriculture and irrigation sectors received an allocation of ₹11,589.48 crore and ₹10,968.77 crore, respectively.
— Buggana Rajendranath (@BugganaRaja) March 16, 2023
SCs, STs, and Backward Classes form a formidable portion of the vote bank for any political party.
The government allocated ₹20,005 crore for the welfare of SCs, ₹38,605 crore for Backward Classes, ₹6,929 crore for STs, and ₹4,203 crore for the welfare of minorities.
For the welfare of a numerically strong community in the state, the Kapus, the state government allocated ₹4,887 crore.
There is a 32.5 percent increase in the BC welfare allocation in 2023-24 as compared to the 2022-23 budget. In 2022-23, around ₹29,143 crore was allocated for BC welfare.
The Andhra Pradesh government also set aside around ₹54,228 crore for several Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes.
The thought process
While presenting the budget, the finance minister said that a combination of the principles of sustainable development and good governance had been the hallmark of his government’s manifesto as well, which he said was implemented almost entirely in the very first year of the governance itself, despite the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and numerous other challenges.
“In fact, the government in many ways has gone beyond its manifesto commitments. In less than four years, the pathbreaking governance approach has resulted in the establishment of 15,004 village and ward secretariats; the recruitment of 1.34 lakh employees; the positioning of 2.65 lakh volunteers; the bringing of 51,488 APSRTC employees into the government fold; the upgrade of 15,715 schools; the completion of 3,707 YSR Village Health Clinics and 461 YSR Urban Health Clinics; the distribution of 30.65 lakh house site pattas; the construction of 4.4 lakh houses; the providing of financial assistance to 44.49 lakh mothers annually through Jagananna Ammavodi; the distribution of 5.2 lakh e-learning devices; the introduction of English medium education with CBSE affiliation; and a total fees reimbursement of ₹9,249 crore,” he added.
The potential roadmap
He said that during the 2018-19 fiscal year, Andhra Pradesh ranked 22nd in the country with respect to the growth of GSDP at constant prices.
“Owing to the enabling policies of our government, the state economy got the necessary impetus, driving both investments and consumption. As a result, Andhra Pradesh ranked first in the country in terms of growth of GDSP at constant prices for the year 2021-22, registering a healthy growth rate of 11.43 percent,” said Buggana.
“These numbers indicate that the support provided by our government during the pandemic was effective in providing resilience to the state economy and enabled it to register the highest growth rate in the last five years,” he added.
The finance minister also said that while the commitments of the government had been met under extremely challenging circumstances, it prioritised and safeguarded the financial stability and the growth prospects of the state.
The revised estimates indicate that the GSDP would be ₹13,17,728 crore in 2022-23. The GSDP is projected to be ₹14,49,501 crore in the year 2023-24, having a growth of 10 percent.
Literary quips galore
From litterateurs Rabindranath Tagore to Rudyard Kipling to former US presidents Thomas Jefferson and John F Kennedy, Buggana used a variety of quotes in his budget speech.
He opened his speech with Tagore’s popular poem “Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action, into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
At one point he quoted a couple of lines from the famous poem “If-”, written by English author and poet Rudyard Kipling: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same… If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch”.
Buggana explained: “These lines are a true tribute to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. We see in him an acknowledgement that, while you cannot always prevent bad things from happening, you can deal with them in a good way. In other words, be magnanimous in success and victory, and be resolute in times of difficulty and adversity.”
While talking about farmers’ welfare, he quoted former US president Thomas Jefferson: “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, and the most virtuous.”
He also read out John F Kennedy’s quote: “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”
He also quoted a couple of lines from Mahatma Gandhi and former president APJ Abdul Kalam.
TDP members suspended
High drama preceded the budget presentation as Assembly Speaker Tammineni Sitaram suspended TDP members from the House for the day for obstructing the proceedings.
Just as Buggana Rajendranath started his budget speech with a couplet by Rabindranath Tagore, TDP members started raising slogans.
Despite repeated requests by Sitaram to sit down and participate in the budget session, and raise their objections — if any — during the discussion, the TDP leaders refused to relent. They also hurled papers at the speaker’s podium.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed his displeasure and sought the suspension of the TDP members to restore order in the House for the smooth presentation of the budget.
The speaker said never in all these years of his political career had he witnessed such unruly scenes and ruckus created by the Opposition members during the presentation of the budget.
Later, Buggana moved a motion to suspend the TDP MLAs. It was adopted by the House and the speaker announced the suspension.
He announced that Bendalam Ashok, Kinjarapu Atchannaidu, Adireddy Bhavani, Nimmakayala Chinarajappa, Gorantla Buchaiah Choudary, Jogeshwara Rao, Gadde Rammohan, Manthena Ramaraju, Gottipati Ravikumar, Eluri Sambasiva Rao, Velagapudi Ramakrishna Babu, Dola Bala Veeranjaneya Swamy, and Nandamuri Balakrishna were suspended for a day.
The projects that got the biggest budget allocations are:
- YSR Pension Kanuka: ₹21,434.72 crore
- YSR Rythu Bharosa: ₹4,020 crore
- Jagananna Vidya Deevena: ₹2,841.64 crore
- Jagananna Vasati Deevena: ₹2,200 crore
- YSR-PM Bima Yojana: ₹1,600 crore
- ₹1,000 crore for interest-free loans to DWCRA (Development of Women in Rural Areas) communities
- ₹500 crore interest-free loans to farmers
- YSR Kapu Nestham: ₹550 crore
- Jagananna Chedodu: ₹350 crore
- YSR Vahanamitra: ₹275 crore
- YSR Netanna Nestham: ₹200 crore
- YSR Matsyakara Bharosa: ₹125 crore
- Diesel subsidy for fishermen: ₹50 crore
- Compensation to farmer families: ₹20 crore
- Law Nestham: ₹17 crore
- BC welfare department: ₹38,605 crore
- R&B department: ₹9,118 crore
- Medical and health department: ₹15,882 crore
- Jagananna Thodu: ₹35 crore
- EBC Nestham: ₹610 crore
- YSR Kalyanamastu: ₹200 crore
- YSR Aasara: ₹6,700 crore
- YSR Cheyutha: ₹5,000 crore
- Amma Vodi: ₹6,500 crore
- A total of ₹54,228.36 crore for DBT schemes
- Price Stabilisation Fund: ₹3,000 crore
- Farm Mechanisation: ₹1,212 crore
- ₹29,690 crore allocated for the secondary education sector
- Mana Badi Nadu Nedu: ₹3,500 crore
- Jagananna Vidya Kanuka: ₹560 crore
- Panchayati Raj and Rural Development: ₹15,873 crore
- Municipal and urban development: ₹9,381 crore
- Skill development: ₹1,166 crore
- Department of Youth Development, Tourism, and Culture: ₹1,291 crore