Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac announced a package for combating price rise in his Budget presented to the Assembly on Thursday for the coming year.

The main thrust of the package is the extension of the scheme for providing rice at Rs. 2 a kg to five lakh more families and distribution of essential articles through the public distribution system. With the extension, a total of 40 lakh families would get rice at Rs. 2 a kg.

The Minister said in his Budget speech that about 3000 ration shops would be made franchisees of the State Civil Supplies Corporation for supply of essential commodities. They would supply a kit of essential commodities including coconut oil, pulses, split gram, chillies, and sugar costing Rs. 300 for Rs. 150. Rs. 100 crore had been earmarked for this scheme.

Subsidy to the State Civil Supplies Corporation for market intervention would be raised from Rs. 50 to Rs. 75 crore with a view to increase the availability of essential articles through it, at least by 50 per cent. The Consumerfed and Horticorp would be given subsidies of Rs. 50 crore and Rs. 20 crore each.

Social Security Programme

Dr. Isaac also announced a comprehensive social security programme including raising of the welfare pensions to Rs. 400 a month.

He said that all eligible citizens above 60 years would be assured of a minimum pension. Those who are not members of a welfare fund would get a pension equivalent to one-fourth that a welfare fund member

gets.

The Rs. 30000 Centrally Sponsored Health Insurance Scheme would be extended to all areas of the State. Those who are enrolled in the Insurance Scheme would get an insurance cover of up to Rs. 70,000 for

treatment of cancer, heart or kidney ailments and other serious chronic illnesses in Government Hospitals. All persons would have options to have a higher insurance coverage by contributing to the difference in the premium.

All those who have worked for 25 days in the employment guarantee schemes would be given maternity leave of one month and paid wages at the rate prevailing for the unorganised sector.

Endowment for children

For every child born in the State, the government would make a permanent deposit of Rs. 10,000 as endowment. The accumulated interest and principal can be utilised to get a bank loan linked support for higher studies or skill development training or self-employment after Plus Two. For children not belonging to BPL families, half of the endowment would have to be borne by the family. The Budget earmarked Rs. 100 crore for this.

He said the outlay of the Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme was doubled from Rs. 20 crore to Rs. 40 crore. The outlay for Income Support Scheme was enhanced from Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 80 crore for 2011-12.

The additional remuneration being given by the State government to Anganwadi workers over that provided by the Centre would be enhanced to Rs. 1000. A monthly honorarium of Rs. 300 would be provided to volunteers.

Endosulfan victims

The Minister also announced a special package for the Endosulfan victims of Rs. 20 crore including Rs. 5 crore from the Social Security Mission. Using this, those who are bedridden would be given Rs. 2000 a month and other badly affected people will be given Rs. 1000 a month. Further palliative care, improving primary health systems and specialty services through General Hospital Kasaragod and District Hospital Kanhangad, rehabilitation and other measures are included in the package.

Rs. 10 crore is set apart for giving assistance of Rs. 300 each to the care givers of bedridden sick people and mentally ill people.

Besides, Rs. 15 crore is earmarked to assist mentally and physically challenged children studying in schools that do not get central assistance. Pension for handicapped people goes up to Rs. 400 per month.

The scheme to provide milk and egg for two days a week to school children besides the daily mid day meal would continue. Rs. 40 crore is provided for this. Students belonging to schools which adopt the policy of using uniforms made of handloom cloth would be given handloom uniform material at one-tenth the cost. The allocation for Income Support Scheme would be Rs. 20 crore.

Cochlean implantation

The Government would provide Rs. 2 lakh for surgery to restore hearing. “It is possible to restore the capability of hearing to hearing impaired children through cochlear implantation. The music maestro… K.J. Yesudas has taken the lead with the help of philanthropists to get this operation performed,” Dr. Isaac said.

Children who need long term treatment for diseases like cerebral palsy, sickle cell anaemia, life threatening diseases of heart and kidney, haemophilia and similar diseases would be given free treatment in 16 selected hospitals. Recognising the need to encourage the participatory palliative care network which has been flourishing in the State Rs. 1 crore is set apart for the 48 Palliative Care Centres and Rs. 4 crore for the Palliative Care Society.

Assistance to indigent TB patients is enhanced to Rs. 400 a month; assistance to leprosy patients is increased to Rs. 500 a month and for cancer patients, to Rs. 600 a month.

The assistance given to pre-primary teachers and ayahs working under PTAs is raised to Rs. 600 and Rs. 400 respectively. Honorarium for saksharatha preraks stands enhanced from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000.

Assistance to inmates of orphanages would go up from Rs. 250 to Rs. 300. Two hundred and fifity orphanages which have been duly recognised will be included under the purview of the grant in aid. A scholarship scheme for higher education will be introduced for the children of orphanages to commemorate the birth centenary of Father Reynold.

Migrant workers

Dr. Isaac announced that Rs. 10 crore would be set apart for the welfare of migrant workers. A welfare fund would be set up for cooks in schools. Rs. 125 lakh would be set apart for providing accident assistance to coconut tree climbers.

He also announced that a welfare fund would be started for half lakh people working in unaided schools, colleges and tutorials. Private special education school would also be included in the scheme. A welfare fund would be set up for nurses and others working for Hospital Development Committees.

Keywords: Kerala budget