Karnataka's economy has slumped as the Gross State Domestic product (GSDP) has dipped to 6.2 per cent in 2015-16 against 7.8 per cent during 2014-15. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, presenting the Budget speech (his 11th budget in all and fourth as the chief minister) in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Friday, raised concern over the decline in farm growth by 4.7 per cent and attributed it to drought in 137 taluks in kharif and 62 taluks in Rabi season and a fall in foodgrains production - to 110 lakh tonnes in 2015-16 against 126 tonnes last year.
Siddaramaiah who did away with separate agriculture budget—a norm practised by the previous BJP government, chose to allocate Rs 4,344 crore to farm sector during 2016-17, banking on the plans to set up "Special Agriculture Zones" on the lines of SEZs to develop 100 model agriculture villages or Suvarna Krishi Grama across the state, and a network of progressive farmers, agriclinics and digital agriculture initiatives to strengthen the sector. The budget also proposed to abolish agriculture income tax in a move that could benefit coffee, tea and rubber growers.
Siddaramaiah also proposed to set up Karnataka State Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Committee which will be headed by the chief minister.
The total budget outlay is Rs 1,63,419 crore (against estimated revenue receipts of Rs 1,30,758 crore, capital receipts of Rs 75 crore and loans of Rs 31,198 crore). The fiscal deficit is Rs 25,657 crore (2.12 per cent of GSDP). The Annual Plan size of Rs 85,375 crore in 2016-17 is an increase of 17.6 per cent over the plan size of Rs 72,597 crore for 2015-16.
The chief minister expressed happiness over the Centre amending the methodology to estimate GSDP (of factoring in the genuine contribution of IT sector to the economy). He noted that this had increased the state's contribution to country's GDP—from 5.5 per cent to 7 per cent. The contribution of IT sector has increased from 9 per cent to 18 per cent. Overall sector accounts for 64 per cent, manufacturing for 15 per cent and agriculture 8 per cent (a decline from 14 per cent).
To bail out the IT-City of Bengaluru buckling under potholed roads, frothing lakes and mounting garbage, the CM announced a special package of Rs 5,000 crore for topping city roads, development of 1500 km of alternative roads, multilevel parking, grade separators, elevated roads, lake development (Rs 100 crore), solid waste management (Rs 500 crore), construction of stormwater drains (Rs 800 crore) and remodeling of old markets.
If the previous BJP government granted huge funds to mutts and other religious organisations, the Congress, keen on consolidating its votebase, has doled out huge funds to the minorities and backward classes. An effort to resurrect icons like Valmiki, Mahaveera, Devaraj Urs, Havanur and Kalburgi smacks of appeasement too.
While, one crore is allotted for the installation of Maharshi Valmiki's statue in Bengaluru, a grant of Rs 3 crore will be provided every year for the development of Devara Hipparagi, birth place of Madivala Machi Devaru. The development of Bettadatunga and Kallahalli villages, the birth place of D. Devaraj Urs will be taken up at Rs.20 crore.
A memorial of late L.G. Havanur, who toiled for social justice will be set up at Rs 1 crore. A separate Board under Maharshi Valmiki Development Corporation for the comprehensive development of tribal communities like Koragas, Malaikudiya, Soliga, Jenu Kuruba, Kadu Kuruba, Iruliga will be set up. A grant of Rs.10 crore each was alloted for the development of Madivala, Savitha Samaja, Thigala, Kumbara and Uppara communities.