Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is confident of ensuring all-round growth in the State and is preparing a fresh budget to ensure this. The budget will be presented in the Legislative Assembly on July 12.
Speaking to The Hindu here on Monday, Mr. Siddaramaiah, who took charge as Chief Minister about two months ago, said: “I cannot continue with the priorities and programmes of the previous government although some schemes will remain. The people have given us a mandate and expect us to live up to the promises made in the manifesto. A new budget is being prepared that will focus on the policies and priorities of the new government and the budgetary allocations for their implementation.”
Minister for Higher Education and Tourism R.V. Deshpande was also present with the Chief Minister.
Mr. Siddaramaiah said the budget will neither be a revised one nor one that will be termed a supplementary budget. “It will be a fresh budget, with fund allocations for the next eight months of the financial year.” The previous government had presented a full budget for 2013–14 and had taken a vote on account for the expenditure to be incurred for the first four months which ends on July 31.
The Chief Minister said there will be special focus on agriculture. He intends to meet the demands of farmers, namely providing quality seeds for free and fertilizers. However, the emphasis on agriculture in a special booklet should not be termed as an agriculture budget.
The B.S. Yeddyurappa government had introduced the concept of agriculture budget, which was continued by the D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar governments. The budget will also be much more than Rs. 1 lakh crore (made by the previous government), more so, with the Plan size approved by the Union Planning Commission itself being Rs. 47,000 crore.
“We will plug revenue leakages and raise adequate resources,” the Chief Minister said, responding to a question on how he planned to mop up revenue to fulfil his poll promises.
Mr. Siddaramaiah has the distinction of having presented seven budgets while serving as Finance Minister in the J.H. Patel government and Dharam Singh governments. He will ensure that funds earmarked under the special component plan of various departments to benefit Scheduled Castes are utilised within the same year.
An expansion of the Congress Ministry will be carried out in consultation with the party high command, he said. But, this would only be after the State Budget — the first after the Congress government took charge on May 13. There are four vacant berths in the Ministry.
The optimum strength of a Ministry in Karnataka is 34 and its present strength is 30, including the Chief Minister. While the Chief Minister was the only person to be sworn in on May 13, it was followed by the induction of 28 Ministers on May 18. S.R. Patil was inducted into the Ministry on June 16 to ensure that he could also function as Leader of the House in the Legislative Council.