The vote-on-account Budget presented by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao in the State Assembly was a script that chronicled the phenomenal rise of Telangana from the abysmal depths of economic and agrarian crises to emerge as a front-runner and trend-setter in various fields. It also laid the roadmap for the future of a rapidly growing State with particular emphasis on agriculture development and welfare of marginalised and vulnerable sections of society. Chandrashekhar Rao, who also holds the Finance portfolio, recalled the mess that Telangana region was in at the time of the State’s formation in 2014, and how the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government, in its very first term, took the bull by its horns and was successful in placing the fledgling State on top. Since Chandrashekhar Rao’s focus was on the farm sector and welfare schemes, the two areas accounted for the bulk of budgetary allocations. While agriculture coupled with irrigation garnered about Rs 42,607 crore, the welfare schemes, including Aasara, a bouquet of pensions covering vulnerable and weaker sections, and various programmes for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities together got a whopping allocation of Rs 47,483 crore. That Chandrashekhar Rao decided to allocate about 50 per cent of the total outlay in the Budget to these two sectors clearly indicates that the State government has not lost sight of its priorities. Another takeaway from the Budget is that the TRS government doesn’t believe in delaying implementation of its promises, like the unemployment dole it had promised which it could have been tempted to put off till a full Budget is presented. This is the first time that unemployed youth in the State would be getting a monthly financial assistance from the government, and the Rs 3,016 that is on offer, is not a small amount. The farming community in the State has a lot to cheer about with the government going in for another lot of crop loan waiver, besides the enhanced farm input assistance of Rs 10,000 per annum under the unique Rythu Bandhu scheme.
On the growth side, the State has done phenomenally well, deserving all the accolades coming its way after it pulled itself up from a distressed economy at the time of State formation to one bubbling with energy. Doubling of the GSDP growth rate from a mere 4.2 per cent in 2014 to 10.6 per cent in 2018-19 is no mean achievement. As Chandrashekhar Rao put it, the figures are nothing but a testimony that the government was focussed on what needs to be done, that too in a short span of just four years. The growth rate is expected to touch the 15 per cent mark in 2018-19 given the trend, and the fact that it has surpassed the national average of 12.3 per cent speaks volumes of the efforts put in by the TRS government. It is also heartening that the State is ahead of all other States when it comes to States Own Tax Revenue registering a healthy growth rate of 17.71 per cent in the first four years of TRS rule. And Chandrashekhar Rao is not done yet. He has asked the people to look out for more innovative and unique schemes in future.