The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday presented its annual budget for the financial year 2021-22 with an outlay of Rs 2,29,779.27 and allotted a whopping Rs 48,000 crore towards implementing 22 freebie schemes. The ruling YSR Congress introduced a ‘gender budget’ and ‘child budget’ with an outlay of Rs 47,283 crore and Rs 16,748 crore, respectively
Presenting his third budget in a row, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath said three of these schemes that will cost Rs 16,899 crore will be implemented through the State Development Corporation. The gender budget has further been divided into two components, one of which has an outlay of Rs 23,463 crore to fully cover schemes targeted for women and girls. The balance outlay will be for composite schemes.
Rajendranath presented the budget in the Legislative Assembly after Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan’s customary address to a joint sitting of the Council and the Assembly during the one-day session. Principal opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) boycotted the session over YSRCP’s ‘misrule’. Subsequently, the budget was passed without any discussion.
Rajendranath said the lion’s share of the budget has been allotted to social welfare, followed by agriculture (Rs 11,210.80 crore) and health sectors (Rs 13,830.44 crore) along with water resources (Rs 13,237.78 crore) in tune with the policies of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The revenue expenditure was pegged at Rs 1.82 lakh crore, while the capital expenditure has been estimated at Rs 31,198.38 crore. The estimated revenue deficit is around Rs 5,000.05 crore and the fiscal deficit is estimated at around Rs 37,029.79 crore.
Rs 17,403.14 crore has been allotted for the welfare of scheduled castes, Rs 6,131.24 crore for scheduled tribes, Rs 28,237.65 crore for backward classes and Rs 3,840.72 crore for minorities. For Kapu welfare, Rs 3,306 crore has been earmarked and Rs 5,478 crore for EBC welfare.
An amount of Rs 24,624 crore has been allocated for primary and intermediate education, while for higher education Rs 1,973.16 crore has been allocated.
Of the funds meant for health sector, allocations have been made for free vaccines, setting up a kidney research centre and super speciality hospital at Palasa.
An amount of Rs 3,763.34 crore has been allotted for industrial development, Rs 7,594.06 crore towards transport and Rs 6,637.24 crore for the energy sector.
During the vote of thanks after the presentation of the Budget, Reddy said a number of steps have been taken during the last two years to cater to the needs of each and every family, besides fighting the pandemic. A two-minute silence was observed for the lives lost due to COVID-19.
“I know the value of life. That is why as soon as our government came to power, we brought about radical changes in Arogya Sri scheme. We have taken steps to make Arogya Sri applicable to every family with an annual income of Rs 5 lakh. Before 2019, only 1,000 diseases were included in the scheme. Now 2,400 ailments are covered. We have made 104, 108 vehicles fully equipped with essentials,” the CM said.
Regarding the fight against COVID-19, Reddy said last years samples had to be sent to Pune for testing, now the state has 150 laboratories. “We are conducting over one lakh tests daily in the state," he said.
“There were 261 hospitals in first wave dealing with coronavirus cases. Now, we have 649 hospitals. s have also been set up and we have taken steps to procure over 18,000 oxygen concentrators for these centres. After the partition of the state, the metropolis of AP was gone. Superspecialty hospitals were also shut down. We have taken steps for the development of the health infrastructure. We are mulling the idea to set up a teaching and nursing college in every parliamentary constituency. As of last September, there were 37,400 beds for COVID patients. Now, the number has gone up to 47,285 beds,” he said.
Andhra Pradesh is the only state to have included free coronavirus treatment under its healthcare scheme, Reddy said. “Every day about 25,000 people are getting free medical facilities under this scheme. We have spent Rs 2,229 crore in these 14 months on coronavirus. Now, black fungus has also been brought under the purview of Arogya Sri. As many as 17 hospitals in the state have been notified for the treatment of this disease."
Reddy further said the state had 1.48 crore people above the age of 45 and two crore in the age group group of 18-44 and the state needs a total of 7 crore doses for the inoculation of all these people. So far, the Centre has given only 76.29 lakh doses.
“We are floating global tenders for the purchase of vaccines. Only about 11 percent of the state’s population is vaccinated. If you can complete 50 per cent, herd immunity can be developed. Vaccination is a priority for those over 45 years of age. Once vaccines become available, we will administer the doses for free," said Reddy.