Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac, who presented his sixth consecutive budget Thursday, termed it “development-oriented” and an attempt to do something for non-Keralites (NRKs) while the Congress-led opposition dismissed it as a “mockery of conventions”. Issac is only the second finance minister of the state to present all the budgets in a five-year tenure of the assembly. His senior party colleague T.Sivadasa Menon achieved this in the E.K. Nayanar cabinet (1996-2001).
Issac’s budget, ahead of the forthcoming polls, had a string of sops, including hike in social welfare pensions from Rs.300 to Rs.400, provision of Rs.2 a kg rice for four million poor families and Rs.770 crore of schemes for women. He also announced the government would deposit Rs.10,000 as fixed deposit for every child born in the state and the sum could be used once the child completes Plus-2 level of education to meet the expenses on higher studies.
Contending that his budgets have not been able to do full justice to the NRKs, Issac said: “Let me ask: what the hell has the central government done for NRIs? Don’t they have huge amounts collected by way of various fees from the NRIs? Let them also do something, but look this time I have set aside Rs.19 crore for them…I fully agree this is little.”
Issac has set aside Rs.9 crore for various welfare schemes for the NRKs and Rs.10 crore for the Norka Welfare Fund.An unimpressed Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said that through this budget, Issac has made a mockery of himself.