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Kerala Budget 2021 LIVE UPDATES: Thrust on creating jobs in Thomas Isaac’s speech; welfare schemes to continue

Kerala Budget 2021 Highlights Live Updates: Kerala FM TM Thomas Isaac is presenting the budget for 2020-21.

By: Express Web Desk | Kochi |
Updated: January 15, 2021 1:22:44 pm
GST Council meet, Goods and Services Tax, dispute resolution mechanis, economy news, Indian express newsKerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac

Kerala Budget 2021: In a speech that lasted over three hours, considered the longest in the history of Kerala Assembly, Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac Friday unveiled the LDF government’s agenda for the next five years, if re-elected to power in May.

Tackling unemployment in Kerala, which has one of the highest rates of joblessness in the country, was one of the primary thrust-areas of Isaac’s budget. He proposed a new Rs 20-crore project to convert buildings with at least 5000 sq ft into work-stations at the block and municipal level. A digital platform, through which companies can directly hire job-seekers for ‘work from home’ or ‘work near home’ models, has been envisaged. Professionals getting jobs through the platform will have access to government incentives like purchasing computers and technical devices on affordable loans through KFC, KSFE and Kerala Bank. The finance minister said the government plans to provide jobs to at least 20 lakh people in the next five years through the digital platform. This includes a large section of skilled women who may have been forced to break their careers for personal reasons and wishing to work again on a ‘work from home’ model.

As part of skill training, the budget also talks about forming a ‘skill mission’ under the Kerala Development Innovation Strategy Council (K-DISC) as part of which 50 lakh educated youth will be imparted training on a war footing.

At the same time, the LDF government’s eye on strengthening welfare schemes and pension packages was clearly seen in the budget. The social welfare pension was hiked by Rs 100 to Rs 1600, honorarium for ASHA workers and elected local body representatives hiked by Rs 1000, welfare fund contribution of NRK returnees hiked by Rs 200, a new social welfare board will be created for employees in the tourism sector and pension of journalists and non-journalists increased by Rs 1000.

Some of the government’s flagship projects like K-FON which assures affordable internet connectivity for all, the Silver Rail semi high-speed railway project and the carbon-neutral coffee project in Wayanad got allocations in the new budget.




Live Blog

Kerala Budget 2021 Live Updates: Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac presents the Kerala budget for 2021.

12:21 (IST)15 Jan 2021
FM concludes mammoth 3 hour, 18 minute speech

The three hour, 18 minute budget speech of Thomas Isaac concludes after covering almost all sectors of the state's economy.

12:20 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Local body poll results a vindication of governance record

In his closing remarks, the finance minister attrbutes the LDF's win in the local body polls to the achievements of the incumbent government and the manner in which it unveiled welfare initiatives during the floods and most recently in the Covid lockdown phase. 

12:04 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Budget speech crosses THREE hours!

Local media reports say this is the LONGEST ever budget speech in the Kerala Assembly. Isaac is reported to have crossed the previous record held by former Congress CM Oommen Chandy. Isaac had started his speech at 9 am.

12:01 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Rs 300 crores for new medical college in Wayanad

A Medical College Hospital, one of the long-standing demands of the people of Wayanad district, will be realized in the next two years, Isaac said. The government, he said, would allocate Rs 300 crores for the construction of a medical college hospital in the district. There will also be a research centre to study new genetic diseases like sickle-cell. 

11:50 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Thrust on railway projects

The Kasaragod-Thiruvananthapuram semi high-speed railway corridor, also known as Silver Rail, is a flagship project of the LDF government through which one can travel by train from one end of the state to the other in under four hours. Currently, it takes around 12 hours for the same journey.

The FM has underlined that land allocation for the K-rail project will begin soon. The DPR of the Rs 66,000 crore project got approval from the state cabinet in June last year. 

Also, the FM underlined that Kerala was ready to share the cost of the Sabari railway which will involve laying railway lines from Angamaly to take trains to Sabarimala.

11:19 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Some key announcements in FM's speech

* Allowance for ASHA workers hiked by Rs 1000

* Identification cards to be issued by govt soon for roadside sellers

* Honorarium for elected local body representatives to be hiked by Rs 1000

* Allocation of Rs 10 crores for welfare of migrant workers

* Rs 520 crores for midday meal scheme in schools

* Counsellors to be appointed in all government schools.

* Rs 60 crores to be allocated for special schools in the state 

11:12 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Benefits for ration card holders

Holders of white and blue coloured ration cards will be able to purchase 10 kilos of rice at Rs 15/kg in a new announcement by the FM. This is seen as expanding the state government's effective public distribution system.

10:53 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Key allotments in the tourist sector

* Rs 100 crores (highest allotment) for tourism marketing 

* Social welfare board to be formed for employees in the tourism sector

* Rs 7 crores for Muziris-Kochi Biennale

* Rs 40 crores for Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram heritage projects

* Rs 5 crores to encourage student trips to heritage places in state

* Interest-free loans for entrepreneurs in tourism sector

10:44 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Train service to Munnar under consideration

The state government is pondering about introducing a train service through the popular hill station of Munnar to attract tourists. Discussions are on with Tata company, which owns a majority of the tea gardens there, to allocate land for the service. 

In the British era, there was a train service to Munnar which fell in disrepair. 

10:40 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Very few poems this time

Thomas Isaac is known for quoting poems and prose passages of eminent Malayalam writers during his budget speeches. Last year, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala had poked fun at him, saying he should note down his literary musings in a separate book and hand it to Opposition leaders rather than employ them during a serious budget speech.

This time, the FM has quoted very few poems in his budget speech and has largely stuck to the announcements. 

10:35 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Digital platform to encourage hiring, help job creation

As part of a new project to reduce unemployment in Kerala, one of the highest in the country, the government plans to create a digital platform through which employers can find the right candidates. Loans will be available to job-seekers to purchase laptops and computers. 

Through Skill Mission, 50 lakh people will get skilled in order to get jobs. Target is 20 lakh jobs to be created in the next five years. 

10:13 (IST)15 Jan 2021
'Laptop in every home'

The finance minister has announced that the laptop distribution project of the state government will be expanded in a way that every household in the state will have access to a laptop.

BPL families will be able to purchase laptops at a subsidy of 25% and those classified as 'financially vulnerable' will get free laptops.

Additionally, 3.5 lakh students in the state will get access to digital study materials.

10:05 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Big announcements for education sector

* 1000 new posts to be created in universities. 

* Setting up 30 centres of excellence among existing universities.

* Rs 1000-crs outlay for affiliated colleges

* 800 vacancies in the higher education sector to be filled instantly.

* Creation of new post-doctoral fellowships to encourage research.

09:54 (IST)15 Jan 2021
'Organised attack on KIIFB'

Isaac, in his budget speech, condemned what he termed as an 'organised attack' on KIIFB, the favourite investment arm of the Kerala government which has faced allegations of corruption. In the last 5 years, the LDF government has leaned heavily on KIIFB to steamroll many of its social welfare projects: from building roads and bridges to upgradation of schools and hospitals.

09:46 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Some other key announcements

* Government to create 8000 new posts in the health department. 

* First phase of the flagship scheme K-Fon, envisaging affordable internet for everyone, will conclude next month. 

* Govt plans to give 8 lakh new jobs in the next financial year.

* Rs 1000-cr outlay for self-governing local bodies

* 3900 new startups have been created in the state in last 5 years.

09:40 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Base price fixed for rubber

One of the important commodities coming out from Kerala, rubber will now have a base price. The budget envisages that the base price of rubber has been fixed at Rs 170, helping shore up earnings of farmers.

09:32 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Social welfare pensions hiked by Rs 100

A populist measure, the finance minister has announced the widely-expected move of hiking the social welfare pensions by Rs 100. The monthly pension will now be Rs 1600.

09:24 (IST)15 Jan 2021
Welcome to the blog

Welcome to our live blog where we will be discussing the announcements by Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac as he presents the last budget for the current LDF government.

Women who arrived for work await information after the Cochin Special Economic Zone that houses several industrial units was closed as part of Covid-19 containment measures in Kochi on Oct 1, 2020. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

Kerala budget 2021 LIVE UPDATES: A day before presentation of Kerala's budget, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac Thursday tabled the government's Economic Review 2020 in the state Assembly. He said the state has suffered an economic loss to the tune of Rs 1.56 lakh crore due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Several non-resident Keralites (NRKs) returned to the state from abroad due to the situation.

The Review states that natural disasters, including Cyclone Ockhi of 2017 and two consecutive floods of 2018 and 2019, also had a big impact on the state's economy. "The natural disasters ravaged the state economy affecting the lives and livelihoods of many and adversely affecting productive sectors of the economy," it said.

Kerala's economic growth rate dipped to 3.45 per cent in 2019-20 from 6.49 per cent in 2018-19 owing to the calamities. "The quick estimate of Keralas Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at constant (2011-12) prices is Rs 5.68 lakh crore in 2019-20 as against the provisional estimate of Rs 5.49 lakh crore in 2018-19, thus registering a rate of growth of 3.45 per cent in 2019-20. The corresponding rate of growth in 2018-19 was 6.49 per cent," the Review said.

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