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Updated: March 19, 2013 02:01 IST

AP bungles on agriculture budget

K. Venkateshwarlu
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A TDP member shows a CD of the Agricultural budget speech circulated by the government during budget presentation in the Assembly on Monday. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
The Hindu
A TDP member shows a CD of the Agricultural budget speech circulated by the government during budget presentation in the Assembly on Monday. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

TDP walks out terming it unconstitutional; threatens to move privilege motion

After all the hype it created over presenting the “first ever Agriculture budget in the history of Andhra Pradesh,” the government floundered forcing it to be a mere “action plan” when it finally came up before the Assembly on Monday.

The faux pas committed by the government was such that it triggered an uproar in both Houses. In the principal Opposition, Telugu Desam staged a walk out terming it as “unconstitutional” and threatened to move a privilege motion, even as Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana started presenting it.

Homework not done

Senior legislators across the political spectrum contended that introduction of such “separate budget” was against constitutional provisions and established legislative procedures. Without proper homework, the government, in its enthusiasm to show the emphasis it was according to farm sector, went to town and even got the “Agriculture budget speech 2013-14” booklets printed hurriedly. The Minister also held an all-party meeting to take their inputs.

But realising the mistake late, the government made officials at the last moment to strike off the words ‘budget speech’ with a pen and instead add “action plan 2013-14”. They could do nothing inside the booklet as the words “agriculture budget” were used for over 40 times. Confusion began as there was no mention of the Agriculture Minister presenting this separate budget in Monday’s agenda. Opposition smelt something amiss and ridiculed the government for presenting a document that would not pass legislative scrutiny.

Later in the day, Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy admitted that the government indeed committed a “mistake” in the introduction of budget for agriculture along with the annual budget.

Though there was constitutional provision for such separate budgets, the Business Advisory Committee had to discuss the issue and the Legislature should be informed in advance. “We have identified the lapse that certain legislature procedures were not followed and brought it to the notice of the Assembly Speaker, Legislative Council chairman and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy,” he said. Floor leaders of all parties were also consulted on the issue.

He said the government had decided to come out with a comprehensive policy for the farm sector as nine departments as well as 19 other “sub-divisions” were related to its functioning. There was no effective coordination among the departments due to the absence of integrated policy.

To queries, he said the government sought to present the state of affairs of agriculture sector as supplementary agenda and the allocations made to the sector formed an integral part of the overall budget.

Communication gap

In the Legislative Council, the Leader of the Opposition, Dadi Veerabhadra Rao said rules were not followed as even Council Chairman A. Chakrapani was not informed about the presentation.

Mr. Chakarpani agreed and said the communication gap was owing to lack of proper liaison between the Cabinet and the Council. “Please inform this to the Chief Minister,” he told the Leader of the House C. Ramachandraiah. K. Dilip Kumar (Graduate) sought to know whether it was an agricultural budget or policy statement or an action plan.

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