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AP Budget is realistic: Govt does a poll vault, gives more funds to welfare

DECCAN CHRONICLE | N. Vamsi Srinivas

Published on: March 16, 2023 | Updated on: March 16, 2023

AP finance minister Buggana Rajendranath presents the annual state budget for 2023-24 in Legislative Assembly, Vijayawada on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)

Hyderabad: The Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government on Thursday presented the state Budget for 2023-2024 with a massive outlay of Rs 2.79 lakh crore of which more than 70 per cent will be mobilised from the state's own revenues, devolution of Central taxes and grants-in-aid.

Considered to be the poll Budget with elections due in mid-2024, it displayed the most essential characteristic any incumbent government wishes for and displays — doability. While the Direct Benefit Transfer schemes and the education sector, two quintessential programmes of Jagan Mohan Reddy, will continue to get uninterrupted flow of funds, the very organic nature, be it in case of projecting the revenue growth, expenditure and even the highly controversial borrowings, earns the "realistic" tag for the Budget which was presented by finance minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy in the Assembly.

"We can confidently steer through in the run-up to the election," a close associate of the Chief Minister told Deccan Chronicle.

The projected outlay, or expenditure in normal terms, of Rs 2.79 lakh-crore is just nine per cent in excess of the current fiscal's outlay of Rs 2.56 lakh-crore and 16 per cent of the revised estimate (near to actual expenditure) of Rs 2.40 lakh-crore. "Significantly, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government increased its expenditure by a whopping Rs 50,000 crore this year compared to 2021-2022. The projected increase in expenditure for next year over this year’s revised estimate (RE) would be Rs 40,000 crore. This is very much achievable," said a senior finance official.

The state's own tax revenues were projected as Rs 1,02,651 crore for 2023-24 against the revised estimate of Rs 84,389 crore for the current fiscal. Given the 18 per cent growth the state achieved in the current fiscal compared to 2021-2022, the projection of 21 per cent growth in revenue for next fiscal appeared to be organic.

The share in Central taxes, which is the second highest revenue source for the state, were shown at Rs 41,338 crore which is just Rs 3,000 crore more than what the state actually got this year and Rs 6,000 crore the previous year. This indicates an organic growth rate of 8.3 per cent. The Jagan Mohan Reddy government was also practical in projecting the grants-in-aid from the Centre which stood at  Rs 46,834 crore which indeed is less than this year’s Rs 47,371 crore. In sharp contrast, the neighbouring Telangana state government projected an increase of more than Rs 10,000 crore in grants-in-aid from the Centre.

On the most controversial issue of borrowings, a provision of Rs 63,000 crore was made in the 2023-24 Budget towards open market loans. Another Rs 6,500 crore would be borrowed from the Centre and Rs 2,500 crore from "other loans". The total borrowings of Rs 73,000 crore would be 13.5 per cent in excess of current fiscal’s Rs 64,000 crore but will be within the fiscal regulations imposed by the Centre.

In an apparent bid to ward off criticism against bad condition of roads in the state, the government allocated Rs 9,000 crore to transport and road infrastructure while the allocations for industry and commerce would be `2,600 crore. The finance minister announced two mega industrial hubs — YSR Jagananna Mega Industrial Hub and YSR Electronics Manufacturing Cluster at Kopparti to attract investments of Rs 35,000 crore.