Education and rural development received a major thrust in the Andhra Pradesh budget for 2017-18, presented in the state assembly on Wednesday. Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu also included a “gender budget” in the annual financial statement, seeking to ensure social and economic progress of women by ending discriminatory practices. The budget proposed an expenditure of Rs 1,56,999 crore, marking an increase of about 15.70 per cent over the budget for 2016-17.
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The Finance Minister said a provision of Rs 500 crore had been made as “assistance” to unemployed youth, but left it unspecified whether it was the anticipated unemployment allowance for the year.
The budget made a provision of Rs 20,384 crore for general education and Rs 765 crore for technical education. It set apart Rs 19,565 crore for rural development and Rs 12,770 crore for irrigation and flood control. Welfare received a substantial allocation at Rs 11,361 crore while health care got Rs 7,020 crore. Agriculture and allied sectors got Rs 9,090 crore.
Moving of the state capital to Amaravati (from Hyderabad) and demonetisation put “tremendous stress” on the state’s economy in 2016-17, the Finance Minister said.
Shifting to GST regime from July 1, 2017 could negatively impact the growth of the state’s resources in short term, Yanamala said in his budget speech.
The state government did away with the practice of the plan and non-plan classification in the budget,and, instead made it revenue and capital expenditures. The Finance Minister called it a “significant structural reform”.
“Not only it is a constitutional requirement but also one in tune with international best practice and an essential ingredient for policy formulation and efficient resource allocation,” he noted.
A provision of Rs 1,25,912 crore has been made for revenue expenditure and Rs 31,087 crore for capital expenditure, including Rs 8,009 crore towards principal repayment of public debt. The state’s revenue deficit in 2017-18 is estimated to be around Rs 416 crore (0.05 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product) and fiscal deficit of Rs 23,054 crore (3.0 per cent).
The TDP Government also came out with a “gender budget” this time.
“The objective is to save women and girls from discrimination and neglect in matters of development, progress, security and human rights,” Yanamala said. “Gender budgeting is a process of incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process, assessing the needs of target groups and allocating resources.”
“The government will undertake a comprehensive set of actions to improve the lives of women across all human development indicators,” he said in his budget speech.