Finance Minister K. M. Mani announced in the Assembly on Thursday that the age limit for appointments through PSC would be raised from 35 to 36 years.

Replying to the general debate on the Budget, the Minister said that this was part of measures being taken to ensure that the youth would not lose job opportunities because of the government decision to increase the age of superannuation to 56 years. The age limit for reserved categories of applicants for jobs would also go up by one year.

The Minister said that the government proposed to create posts of 650 nurses, 250 doctors, 60 nursing assistants and 30 attendants to solve the staff shortage in government hospitals. A voluntary retirement scheme would be formulated for teachers soon. The government would also be setting up more upper primary and high schools as part of implementation of right to education.

Mr. Mani announced fresh measures costing Rs. 133.32 crore, taking the cumulative deficit of his Budget for the coming year to Rs. 422.57 crore. Schools for mentally challenged children would be paid grant at Rs. 2000 for each student. There were 267 school with total strength of 17000 children in the State. The scholarship for Muslim girls would he increased from Rs. 125 to Rs. 500. Rs. 25 crore would be set apart for granting scholarships to students belonging to other backward classes.

He said that the welfare pensions for traders would be increased by Rs. 100 a month. Depending on the class of traders, the increased pension would now from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 a month. Rs. 1 crore had been earmarked as grant to the Traders Welfare Fund Board for this.

The salary of teachers working in kindergartens under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Department would be increased from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 3000 a month. The pay of ayahs would be hiked from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1500. There would also be increase in feeding allowance.

The Minister said that he was allocating Rs. 25 crore for acquisition of land for widening of the highway between Karamana and Kaliyikkavila in Thiruvananthapuram district. Rs. 5 crore would be provided for building an underpass at Samkranti in Kottayam and Rs. 1 crore for the Mannuthi-Thrissur-Amala Nagar bypass. Rs. 5 crore would be allocated for the Attukal Township in Thiruvananthapuram and Rs. 6 crore for the Niravu scheme for integrated agriculture development. Rs. 3 crore would be set apart for Centre for Academic Studies.

He was also earmarking Rs. 10 core for providing subsidy for the proposed grid connected solar system. Rs. 25 lakh was being provided for taking up preliminary works for a fish landing centre at Valiathura in Thiruvananthapuram. Rs. 1 crore each was being allocated for health insurance for journalists and widening of anti-liquor campaigns. The Minister also announced allocations for the Moyinkutty Vydiar memorial, Edasseri Govindan Nair memorial (Kuttippuram) and Varappuzha Pappan Memorial.

He said that the decision to write off interest on educational loans taken between 2003 and 2009 would cover unemployed persons in BPL as well as APL families. The Centre had taken a decision to write off interest on education loans taken after 2009.