Kerala budget 2017: govt promises to provide free internet for poor2 min read . Updated: 03 Mar 2017, 05:13 PM IST
The idea is to make internet access a citizen's right, said Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac while presenting the budget
Bengaluru: The first full budget of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala promises free internet for 20 lakh poor households in the state.
The idea is to make internet access a citizen’s right, said finance minister Thomas Isaac presenting the budget.
Among Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Telangana had offered to provide free or low-cost internet to houses for a while but such initiatives remain a non-starter.
The free internet is also one among the many incentives, massive public spending and welfare-oriented programmes announced in the LDF budget.
The finance minister has promised affordable housing for one lakh homeless citizens within the next year. All sector pensions have increased by Rs100 to Rs1,100 and the total social pension allocation is pegged at Rs1,100 crore. Almost all who have less than two acres of land and who don’t pay income tax would get a welfare pension in Kerala, said Isaac.
A ₹ 750-crore package, which the government claims to be the state’s highest ever, is earmarked for people from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, who constitute less than 10% of the state’s population.
In a major push for infrastructure development, a total of ₹ 5,000 crore is earmarked for public investments. Roads and bridges development alone got ₹ ,350 crore. In five years, ₹ 50,000 crore will be spent in developing infrastructure.
Isaac said Rs12,000 crore for infrastructure development will be raised through Non- resident Indians chit funds under Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFb), his pet project to boost private investments.
₹ 500 crore is allocated to revamp government-run schools to international standards. The total allocation of 25 public sector enterprises has been increased from ₹ 00 crore to ₹ 270 crore.
Isaac has also promised something which many economic experts have for years considered impossible such as to make Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) break even in three years.
The budget was filled with criticisms against previous Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre.
Isaac began his speech by criticizing demonetisation, saying it has had a negative impact on all walks of life.
He has also laced the entire budget speech with quotes from the literary works of M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Jnanpith winner and a respected author, who was slammed by the state unit of the BJP for criticizing demonetisation.
With Goods and Service Tax (GST) around the corner, there are no new tax proposals in the budget.