It’s a full Budget with five-year agenda, says Isaac

Measures for fiscal consolidation, achieving protected revenue likely to figure in the Budget being presented tomorrow

Setting the path again for fiscal consolidation and measures to achieve protected revenue in 2023 to avoid Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation are likely to figure in the last Budget of the present Left Democratic Front government to be presented on Friday by Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac.

A single application system for securing licences with the government doing scrutiny and validation is on the cards as part of taking the State to the top 10 in ease of doing business in the country.

“It will not be an election Budget. But, it will be a full Budget that will set an agenda for five years. It will unveil innovative programmes for a new Kerala,” Dr. Isaac told The Hindu amidst giving finishing touches for his 12th budget. Concrete policies aimed at reducing deficit and debt accumulation for fiscal consolidation will figure in the report of the Expenditure Review Committee to be provided with the budget documents this time. “The report will spell out how this can be done. It will be a slow process but not drastic,” Dr. Isaac said.

For the State, GST is the resource. The opportunity has been used to overhaul the department and go for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics. “Our collection will reach (protected revenue) the compensation level in 2023 and the State will not need GST compensation after that and ways will be charted for it. Mobilising resources outside the Budget through special purpose vehicles and financial institutions to invest in the infrastructure sector is a big success.”

Entering market again

“We are not shaken by critics. Mobilisation of funds outside the Budget will go on. ₹15,000 crore expenditure is to come up next year in the infra sector as the works will be in full swing. The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) will enter the market again next year. Loans had been tied up and assured,” he said.

Kerala lottery will compete with other lotteries and outmatch them. For non-tax revenue, Dr. Isaac is eyeing dam sand and quarries. “The government will supply sand and rock. Environment laws will be protected and it will be legal,” he added.

The Health Department has transformed and the sector and will get more personnel and money in the post-COVID era. He also hinted at giving more focus on the transport sector as the sector cannot sustain through roads.

Dr. Isaac’s task is to meet people’s aspirations, keep the development trajectory going, and enable the LDF to come back to power again.

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