Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac announced a package for combating price rise in his budget for the coming year, presented in the Assembly on Thursday.
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. Dr. Isaac 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 were not members of a welfare fund would get a pension equivalent to one-fourth of what a welfare fund member got. The Rs.30,000 Centrally sponsored health insurance scheme would be extended to all areas of the State. Those who worked for 25 days in the job guarantee schemes would be given maternity leave of one month and wages at the rate prevailing for the unorganised sector.
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 could 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 the 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 would be doubled from Rs.20 crore to Rs.40 crore.
The Minister announced a special package for Endosulfan victims costing Rs.20 crore, including Rs.5 crore from the Social Security Mission. Using this, those who are bedridden would be given Rs.2,000 a month and other badly affected people would be given Rs.1,000 a month. Further palliative care, improving primary health systems and specialty services through General Hospital Kasaragod and District Hospital Kanhangad, rehabilitation and other measures were included in the package.
He said Rs.10 crore would be set apart for giving assistance of Rs.300 each to care-givers of bedridden sick people and mentally-ill people. Besides, Rs.15 crore would be earmarked to assist mentally and physically challenged children studying in schools that do not get Central assistance. Pension for handicapped people would go up to Rs.400 a month.
The government would provide Rs.2 lakh for surgery to restore hearing. “It is possible to restore the capability of hearing to aurally challenged children through cochlear implantation,” 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. A sum of Rs.1 crore would be set apart for the 48 palliative care centres and Rs.4 crore for the Palliative Care Society. Assistance to indigent TB patients would be enhanced to Rs.400 a month; assistance to leprosy patients would be increased to Rs.500 a month and that to cancer patients to Rs.600 a month.
The assistance given to pre-primary teachers and ayahs working under PTAs would be raised to Rs.600 and Rs.400 respectively. Honorarium for Saksharatha Preraks would be enhanced from Rs.1,500 to Rs. 2,000. Assistance to inmates of orphanages would go up from Rs.250 to Rs.300. Dr. Isaac announced that Rs.10 crore would be set apart for the welfare of migrant workers. A fund would be started for 50,000 people working in unaided schools, colleges and tutorials.