Hyderabad: The Telangana government has allocated 10.9% of its budget in 2018-19 for agriculture and allied activities, nearly double last year’s 5.9 %. In the budget that was passed on Thursday, the total expenditure for 2018-19 was estimated at Rs1,74,453.84 crore, an increase by 22% over the revised estimates of 2017-18.

The increase on agriculture spending (Rs12,845 crore in 2018-19 as against Rs5,919 crore in 2017-18) can be attributed to its upcoming ‘input subsidy’ scheme, under which land-owning farmers will be given Rs4,000 per acre in both the Kharif and Rabi seasons to bear expenditure on pesticides and other materials required.

An analysis by PRS Legislative Research Institute, a New Delhi based research institution that seeks to strengthen legislative processes in Parliament and state legislatures, found that the 10.9 % allocation for the agricultural sector was found to be higher than 6.4% average of budgeted expenditure (in 2017-18) of 18 states.

In the budget for 2018-19 that was passed, Telangana once again allocated a lion’s share, 14.3% (Rs25,000 crore) of its expenditure on irrigation, which is significantly higher than the average (4.9%) of the 18 other states, pointed out the PRS analysis. However, this is lower than the share of irrigation expenditure in 2017-18 (15.2 %).

The heavy expenditure on irrigation can be gauged from the state’s Rs80,000 crore flagship Kaleswaram lift-irrigation project and others like the Mission Bhagiratha drinking water project (estimated cost Rs40,000 crore).

Total receipts (excluding borrowings) for 2018-19 are estimated to be Rs1,41,282 crore, an increase of 23% as compared to the revised estimates of 2017-18, said the analysis from PRS. Revenue surplus for the next financial year is targeted at Rs5,520 crore (0.7% of the state GDP) and fiscal deficit is targeted at Rs29,077 crore (3.45% of the state GDP).

In the assembly, finance minister Eatala Rajender said the average annual gross state domestic product of the Telangana region in the combined state (of Andhra Pradesh) was barely 4.2% in the two years (2012-13 and 2013-14) preceding the formation of Telangana, as compared with the national average of 5.9 %.

“The growth picked up momentum and there is a perceptible increase in the growth from year to year. In 2015-16 and 2016-17 they were 8.6 % and 10.1 % respectively. During the current year 2017-18, the economy of Telangana is estimated to grow at 10.4 % in real terms as compared with the national GDP growth of 6.6 % per cent," Rajender was quoted as saying in a press release on Thursday.

An analyst, not willing to be identified, said that though the state had targeted to have a fiscal deficit of 3.5% in 2017-18 and 2016-17 as well, data released on 14 March showed that the fiscal deficit stands at 5.5% for 2016-17. “This exceeds the 3% limit prescribed by the 14th Finance Commission," he added.

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