Amid the Covid pandemic and its year-long fallout, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is set to present the state Budget for the ensuing fiscal year 2021-22 in the Assembly on Monday, an official said on Sunday.
"Yediyurappa will present the Budget for 2021-22 on Monday afternoon as he also holds the finance portfolio. It will be the 8th time he presents the Budget and third during his present term as chief minister since July 2019," a state finance department official told IANS.
Since Yediyurappa took over the reins of the southern state as Chief Minister for the fourth time on July 26, 2019, he tabled in the House the state Budget then JD-S chief minister H.D Kumaraswamy presented on February 8, 2019 for fiscal 2019-20 and got it passed by voice-vote on July 29, 2019 to ensure continuity.
"The chief minister presented a full-fledged Budget of the ruling BJP government on March 5, 2020 for fiscal 2020-21 and it was passed before the pandemic hit the state in mid-March last year," the official recalled.
Putting behind the travails of the virus that disrupted normal life for nearly a year, the budget is expected to focus more on development works and women's welfare.
"The state Budget will give priority to development works and women's welfare"
"The state Budget will give priority to development works and women's welfare. This is my assurance to all women in the state," said Yediyurappa a week ago at a public event at Soraba in his home district of Shivamogga.
The month-long Budget session of the state legislature which began on March 4, is expected to pass the Budget by this month-end for implementation from April 1.
The pandemic, however, stalled most of the development works though allocations were made in the Budget but could not be spent due to Covid-induced extended lockdown and restrictions to prevent the virus spread.
"Besides coronavirus, heavy rains and floods during the extended southwest monsoon in August-October also reduced tax collections and revenue mobilisation, as the economy was unlocked gradually and the new normal set in to check the infection," said the official.
The state government resorted to heavy borrowings and raised loans to augment resources for development works since November, as more funds were used in fighting the Covid war over the last 10 months.
With 9,54,393 positive cases till Friday since March 8, 2020 when the infection struck the state, Karnataka has been the third worst-hit Covid state after Maharashtra and Kerala, as 12,359 people succumbed to the virus.
"The state finances, especially tax and revenue have been badly hit, as Bengaluru, which contributes about 60 per cent to the gross state domestic product (GSDP), has been the epicentre of the virus, with over 4 lakh cases till date," lamented the official.
Yediyurappa presented a surplus Budget for fiscal 2020-21 despite Rs 11,887-crore reduction in central funds to the state for fiscal 2019-20.