The State Budget to be presented by Finance Minister K.M. Mani in the Assembly on Friday is expected to give a thrust to the agriculture and productive sectors and infrastructure development and focus on employability.

Interacting with presspersons at the Inspection Bungalow at Vizhinjam, where he is giving final shape to his 12th Budget and the third of the present government headed by Oommen Chandy, the Minister said the Budget would address the challenges and needs of the State.

“It will address the development needs of the State. The demands are high, and I can assure you that it will not burden the common man and lead to a further increase in prices. It will be a balanced, well-oriented, gender-friendly Budget,” Mr. Mani said.

Priorities

Listing out the priorities without going into the details, he said better employability would create jobs within the State and outside.

The public sector alone could not provide jobs to all the educated unemployed in the State.

Self-employment initiatives too were required.

Pointing out that the contribution of agriculture to the economy had come down from 30 per cent in his initial Budget to just 10 per cent now, Mr. Mani said the sector would get prominence in his Budget. “It [the falling contribution] is a wrong message, and rectification measures are needed for enhancing the growth of the sector,” he said.

Mr. Mani said the agriculture sector needed modernisation, and hi-tech farming and agriculture-based industries needed to be encouraged to attract youth to the sector. He said the rehabilitation of returning non-resident Keralites would get due attention in his Budget.

On whether steps would be announced for checking the price rise, the Finance Minister said the State alone could not address the national-level problem. To a query on raising the pension age of government employees, Mr. Mani said the United Democratic Front should take a policy decision. Young people would be taken into confidence before making any decision.

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