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.