Economic Review (2013) tabled in Assembly

The State registered a growth of 8.2 per cent in 2012-13 against 8 per cent in the previous year.

However, with subdued growth at the global and national levels, there is little room for optimism regarding the State’s growth prospects in the short run, says the pre-Budget Economic Review (2013) presented to the Assembly on Wednesday.

The review, prepared by the State Planning Board, notes that the growth of Gross State Domestic Product and per capita income (from 7.2 to 7.5 per cent) are at levels higher than that of India as a whole. High inequality between regions and communities within Kerala and lack of adequate land, labour, and quality infrastructure continue to be a problem, giving rise to social tensions, inflationary trends, and rampant unemployment.

Though not debt-stressed, the State finances were not enough to provide relief to all those sections of society which needed welfare measures.

After accounting for committed expenditure in the form of salaries, pensions and interest payments, the government is forced to rely on borrowed funds for public expenditure. Since there are legal limits to the amount that can be borrowed, there appears to be no option but to reduce unproductive expenditure, evasion and administrative costs in revenue collection, and encourage the private sector to provide some services at a regulated cost and quality of service.

The review estimates that the growth rate at constant prices was the highest (18 per cent) in the secondary sector against four per cent in the primary sector and 5.46 per cent in the tertiary sector. The push factor for the growth in the secondary sector was mainly the growth in construction sector.

Finance Minister K.M. Mani told the media that agriculture and allied sectors had shown a growth of 4.39 per cent in 2012-13 over the previous year, owing to dynamism in the livestock sector. This was a positive sign since agriculture had recorded a negative growth rate of 1.3 per cent during the 11 Plan. It was only 1.8 per cent during the Tenth Plan.

NRI remittances to Kerala had increased from Rs.48,454 crore to Rs.66,190 crore, mainly due to depreciation of the Rupee. Priority sector lending of banks in the State increased to 56.72 per cent of total advances. The increase in housing as well as educational loans was 15 per cent, he said.

Higher level of unemployment at 7.4 per cent against the national average of 2.3 per cent and lower participation of women in the workforce remained to be addressed, Mr. Mani said.

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