Thursday, December 2, 2021
TelanganaBJP's promise of Turmeric board finds no mention in Union Budget

BJP’s promise of Turmeric board finds no mention in Union Budget

Published: 2nd Feb 2021 1:51 am

Hyderabad: The 2021-22 Union Budget came as a big disappointment to Telangana, yet again, with the Centre giving cold shoulder to the State, choosing to ignore its wish-list. No major allocations have been made for the State in the Union Budget 2021-22 save for sanction of Rs 53.8 crore for the much-awaited Tribal University, one of the many assurances provided in the AP Reorganisation Act of 2014.

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in fact, went ahead and imposed an additional burden on petroleum products costs in the form of Agriculture Cess despite repeated requests from Telangana not to increase any cess as it would not benefit the State in any form.

The State government, in fact, was not expecting any major announcements in the Union Budget in the wake of economic slowdown and the crisis triggered by Covid-19 pandemic. The State, however, was expecting certain allocations from the Centre in response to the series of representations submitted to different Union Ministries seeking the expeditious release of funds to the State.

Not so surprisingly, there are no assurances for compensation for the shortfall in tax devolutions. The request to enhance monthly pension for various sections, particularly elderly citizens under the National Social Assistance Programme from the existing Rs 200 to at least Rs 1,000, has also been ignored. No specific funds were allocated for expediting the ongoing works on National Highways or railway lines. The BJP’s electoral promise to establish a turmeric board in the State also did not find mention in the Union Budget.

Another major concern of the State government was the poor share that accrued to States from the Central taxes pool, an issue that has been consistently highlighted by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao in various fora as also by Finance Minister T Harish Rao during the GST Council meetings.

Though taxes are being increased by way of cess and surcharges, the proceeds are not being shared with the States. Most of the cess and surcharges are levied for purposes that are in the State list, thus impinging on the autonomy of the State. Rather than merging them with taxes, the Centre brought in the Agriculture Cess. While the Centre is expected to reap in an estimated Rs 1,800 crore per annum under the new cess from Telangana alone, the State, in fact, doesn’t stand to gain anything with the implementation of the cess. To add to this, there is no clarity on the areas where the cess collection would be spent.

The Union Budget has also not made any attempt to address the concerns of Telangana State about linking agriculture with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). No assurances have come from the Union Finance Minister on the establishment of the IT Investment Region (ITIR) or regional ring road. There has also been no response to the State government’s requests for releasing pending grants recommended by the 15th Finance Commission amounting to about Rs 713 crore for the last financial year, as also the establishment of Railway Coach Factory in Kazipet despite the government handing over 100 acres, much more than the Centre had sought for the project.

 


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