Says resource crunch likely to stump State’s development

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has warned that the State may have to withdraw from all sectors if the government fails to mobilise enough resources for economic growth.

Addressing a function organised here on Sunday to inaugurate the K.M. Mani Centre for Budget Studies being established under the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), he said a protracted resource crunch could force the State to dump its social welfare obligations as well as development objectives. “The experience of other nations has demonstrated that moulding a welfare State is impossible under anything but the government,” he said.

The Chief Minister said the last budget presented by the United Democratic Front government was an exercise in resource mobilisation through capital investment and public private partnership.

By ignoring the infrastructure sector, Kerala had failed to maintain the achievements in health and education and to meet its development needs.

Highlighting the need to redefine the budgeting exercise and transform it into a participatory effort focussing on social welfare, Mr. Chandy said the mismatch between revenue income and capital investment since the first State budget in 1957 had left Kerala struggling to meet its development needs and welfare obligations.

“From Rs.2,790 crore in 1957-58 to Rs.48,120 crore in 2012, the revenue income has registered a 17- fold increase. But capital investment has grown only seven times during the 55 years, from Rs.852 crore to Rs.6,534 crore,” the Chief Minister said.

This, Mr. Chandy said, had resulted in an acute resource crunch.

“After disbursement of salaries and pensions and payment of interest, we are left with scarce resources to manage everything from investment in the Rs.4,000 crore Kochi Metro Rail project to disbursement of salary for Anganwadi Ayahs.” Mr. Chandy said the new centre under Cusat was being inaugurated at a time when Finance Minister K.M. Mani was set to present his 11th State budget. “His budgets have always had a human face and a development perspective,” he said.

In his address to the gathering, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan stressed the need to ensure the quality of higher education in Kerala. “It is not the dearth of institutions but the poor quality of the existing ones that is affecting the academic standard in the State,” he said.

More In: Kerala | National