Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], February 4 (ANI): The members of Mahila Congress, the women's wing of the Indian National Congress, held a protest against the Pinarayi Vijayan government over the state budget for the financial year 2023-2024.
Mahila Congress Trivandrum District Committee staged a march and protested at the Secretariat.
They lighten the lamps and candles as a protest, symbolically representing to praying for the finance minister to evoke his "good sense" for reconsidering the budget.
Mahila Congress District President Lakshmi R told ANI, "The Union Budget was a disappointment and we had some hopes for the State Budget but the Pinarayi government is simply looting the people in Kerala by evoking tax on almost all essential items. They fought against the Central for a high price for fuel, and now collecting tax."
Senior Congress leader Congress Shashi Tharoor also said the Kerala government's state budget is "very disappointing".
Speaking to ANI, Tharoor said, "It is an extremely disappointing budget. The Budget is unfortunately exploiting the common man. Because the government seems to have no imagination, no idea how to generate revenue."
"Instead of promoting more revenue-generating activities, all they are trying to do is tax people. An extra cess on fuel...Rs 2 per litre for petrol and diesel. Also more primitive tax on alcohol where there is already the highest tax on alcohol in the entire country," Thiruvananthapuram MP said.
The Congress leader said taxes and cesses on everything have an inflationary effect. "When you put Rs 2,000 crore to control inflation, it makes no sense at all. So it is a deeply disappointing budget. If this budget is for say a school exercise, you will get a fail mark," Tharoor said.
He said it is extremely important to look after the poor in this country and people who are entitled to social security pensions. He said this can be done by promoting the generation of revenue, creating opportunities for businesses and giving them a chance to make money in the state by creating an effective environment.
"If you create a very high tax environment, a state where you do not have effective economic activity, you are actually going to make it worse not better. That is the problem with this government's approach," added Tharoor.
Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal on Thursday presented the budget for the 2022-23 financial year in the legislative assembly. This Budget marks the third by Balagopal after he took over as the state's Finance Minister.
The Budget allocated Rs 2,000 crore to check inflation. Despite being a consumerist State Kerala was able to control price hikes and the state witnessed the lowest price rise in the country, Balagopal said.
Petrol and diesel prices will be increased by Rs 2 per litre in Kerala, said the finance minister.
The minister said that the Centre's assistance to the state has been reduced and a financial crunch is expected this year.
The finance minister further said though the State government is facing challenges due to the Central government's financial policies, Kerala is not in debt and that State has the financial position to take more loans.
The budget allocated Rs 3,400 crore to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
The Finance Minister announced a special Research and Development budget as part of the thrust towards creating a knowledge economy. Balagopal said the State has been making efforts to retain the youth in the State and minimise their migration to other countries.
The minister said that Rs 1,000 crore will be allocated for the 'Make in Kerala' during the project period. Moreover, Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for next year.
The State budget allocated Rs 300 crore for waterway development and Rs 133 crore has been allocated for the development of 1,933 km of highways in Kerala. Further, Rs 10 crore has been allocated for implementing 'work from home' model in the tourism sector.
The cess at the rate of Rs 20 for one litre of Indian-made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), priced between Rs 500 to Rs 999 and Rs 40 on IMFL priced above Rs 1,000.
Balagopal said that the government has identified 64,006 extremely poor families in the state and the government has prioritised poverty eradication in the budget.
On Thursday Balagopal presented the pre-budget economic survey for FY 2021-2022 in the state assembly. (ANI)