Kerala govt, opposition slam union budget

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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday slammed the union budget, saying that it would neither help strengthen the economy nor ensure social security or development, but only further increase inflation and unemployment in the country.

All the legitimate needs of the southern state were completely ignored in the budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, though Kerala had submitted a detailed memorandum on its long pending demands, Vijayan said.

Kerala had put forward a slew of demands, including the Angamali-Sabari railway line, raising rubber subsidy, granting of AIIMS, accelerating the development of national highways, increasing the number of attaches in embassies in the Gulf countries, rehabilitation of expatriates and so on, he said in a statement.

It was only last month that Kerala had been denied deserved natural disaster relief though it was one of the worst flood hit states in recent times, the Left veteran said. In the case of Kerala, the same "political mindset" was reflected in the budget also, he said.

The budget, which comprises proposals to sell more Public Sector Undertakings, has not provided enough funds for the survival of PSUs like the Cochin Shipyard and Kochi refinery in the state, Vijayan said.

The Centre, which is constantly denying states their rightful share in the matter of GST, was now trying to 'grab' their rights in agriculture and land sectors, going against the federal principles, he alleged. It was also interesting to note that the union budget had no serious mention about the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Chief Minister added.

Echoing similar sentiments, state Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said the union budget was a "mere rhetoric" to cover up the recession in the country and alleged that it had "completely ignored" the demands of the southern state.

There was no increase in allocation of the central funds to states as compared to last year, he told reporters here. "The union budget is a war cry against the state. The budget allocation for Kerala is the lowest in the history," he said.

Slamming the budget, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran alleged that it totally ignored the poor and ordinary people while protecting the interests of corporates.

Stating that the most frequently used term in the budget was the PPP model, which refers to privatisation, he said even LIC, considered as the backbone of the country, was being privatised.

The Union Budget had no plans to reverse the 'pathetic' economic condition in the country, indicated by the Economic Survey, the former Union minister said.

The stock market took a plunge soon after the presentation of the budget, raising concerns about its effectiveness, the Congress veteran added.


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