With barely three months to go for the state elections, Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday presented his final budget, allotting Rs 2,536 crore in the next fiscal for key projects like Vizhinjam port, Kannur Airport and Kochi Metro. The Congress-led UDF government has announced a Rs 500-crore fund for the support of ailing rubber farmers.
The budget was presented in the Assembly amid protests and eventual boycott by the Opposition led by CPI (M), demanding the chief minister’s resignation over alleged solar and bar bribery scams. It was after a gap of 29 years that the Kerala Assembly saw a chief minister presenting the state budget. Finance minister KM Mani had quit in November last year after an adverse remark by the High Court in the bar bribery case.
“All BPL families in the state will get rice for free,” announced the chief minister, in his budget speech. Ration rice is currently sold to BPL families in the state for Rs 1 per kg.
The Kerala government will also provide two LED bulbs of 9 watts each to all houses in the state for free. For this, Chandy has earmarked as much as Rs 150 crore.
Last year’s R300-crore price support fund for rubber has been beefed up to Rs 500 crore, and Rs 20 crore has been set aside to procure fresh coconut at the rate of Rs 25 per nut.