Deccan Chronicle

New welfare schemes add to state's budget crunch

Deccan Chronicle.| L. Venkat Ram Reddy

Published on: January 18, 2022 | Updated on: January 19, 2022

State unable to fund even existing schemes; where to find more funds, ask officials while finalising budget proposals

A file photo of KCR addressing a press conference at Pragathi Bhavan. (Photo: Twitter)

A file photo of KCR addressing a press conference at Pragathi Bhavan. (Photo: Twitter)

Hyderabad: The State Budget preparation this time has become a tightrope walk for the finance department with the TRS government's decision to launch new welfare schemes from 2022-23, all of which have huge financial implications.

According to official sources, the new schemes the state government wants to roll out for 2022-23 and would impose a heavy financial burden on state government are the Dalit Bandhu (Rs 20,000crore), the Mana Vuru-Mana Badi (Rs 3,000crore), the Rs 5 lakh financial assistance per BPL family to construct houses on their own plots (Rs 5,000crore), the reduction of age for Aasara pension beneficiaries from 65 years to 57 years (Rs 3,000 crore), unemployment allowance (Rs 3,500 crore), among others.

The state government is already faced with a funds crunch to implement the existing welfare schemes and mobilisation of additional funds for the new schemes has become a challenging task to the officials.

The priority of the state government is the Rythu Bandhu scheme being implemented without any interruption since its launch in May, 2018. However, the scheme is currently facing a funds crunch for disbursal of money for the ongoing rabi season. The government started crediting Rythu Bandhu for rabi in the bank accounts of farmers from December 28 last and this was to end on January 10. However, the government could credit Rythu Bandhu amounts to only farmers owning upto 17 acres of land till date.

Thousands of farmers owning land above 18 acres are awaiting the Rythu Bandhu benefit. The government needs nearly Rs 1,500 crore to cover these unpaid farmers but the finance department is throwing its hands up due to the state’s other financial commitments.

The finance department is facing a herculean task of mobilising Rs 15,000 crore every year to fund the Rythu Bandhu scheme.

The Rs 1 lakh crop loan waiver scheme promised during the 2018 assembly polls is also pending due to funds crunch. The government spent Rs 6,000 crore on farm loan waiver to write off loans up to Rs 50,000 in two years. It still requires nearly Rs 10,000 crore to waive the loans up to Rs 75,000 and upto Rs 1 lakh in two phases to complete the implementation of the scheme before the assembly polls due in December 2023.

Against this backdrop, mobilising an additional Rs 35,000 crore to fund new schemes in the new fiscal and making budgetary allocations accordingly in the State Budget for 2022-23 have become a daunting task to the finance department. The budget is expected to be presented in the assembly in March.

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