Thiruvananthapuram: Hike in welfare pensions and relief measures for farmers were proposed in the Kerala 2021-22 budget presented on Friday by Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac.
The budget announcements assume significance this time as the Assembly polls are just months away. It is the final budget for the present LDF government.
Though Isaac would present the last budget as a full- fledged one, the House would pass only a vote-on-account for four months as the tenure of the present government would end soon.
Beginning his speech by listing out various initiatives implemented by the state government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Finance Minister said the budget would be a vision document of the development and priorities in the post-COVID Kerala.
He said the Left government, which had fought two consecutive floods and novel coronavirus pandemic effectively, considered each challenge and crisis it confronted as new opportunities.
"The Left government ensured that no one sleeps hungry during the time of pandemic. it also instilled confidence in the minds of people," the minister said.
Giving thrust on higher education and employment along with social welfare measures in the budget, Isaac said eight lakh new job opportunities would be created in the state, and added 20 lakh people would be given employment in five years through digital platforms.
Wooing people at the grass-root level, various welfare pensions were raised to Rs 1,600 (which is Rs 1,500 at present) from this April.
The renovation of 4,830 km of roads would be completed, the minister said.
In a relief for farmers, the floor price of rubber was raised to Rs 170 while the procurement price of paddy increased to Rs 28 and coconut to Rs 32.
A total of 4,000 new posts in the health sector, skill mission to provide and improve skills to 50 lakh youth, laptops at subsidised rate for poor families, Rs 2,000 for infrastructure development in universities and so on were some among the significant announcements.
Isaac also criticised the three contentious farm laws, against which farmers were agitating in New Delhi and the alleged "neo liberal" policies of the Centre.