Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday presented a populist budget without any new taxes as the ruling Congress party prepares to woo voters ahead of assembly and Lok Sabha elections due next year.

The government of chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy increased its outlay for the year 2013-14 to 1.61 trillion including 26,774 crore towards various welfare schemes. The government projected a fiscal deficit of 24,487 crore.

“This is a welfare budget," state finance minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy told reporters after presenting the budget. “We have ensured benefits to all sections of the society."

Non-plan expenditure accounts for 1.02 trillion and plan expenditure for 59,422 crore. The proposed budget represents a 10.62% increase in budget allocations from 1.45 trillion during 2012-13 fiscal.

Ramnarayan Reddy set aside 8,585 crore for spending on welfare programmes exclusively targeted at scheduled castes and 3,666 crore on scheduled tribes. Spending on welfare schemes for backward classes was increased by one-third to 4,027 crore, the minister said. Funding for minority welfare development was doubled to 1,027 crore from last year.

The finance ministry allocated 16,990 crore for primary school education, 11,200 crore for rural development, 6,770 crore for water supply to Hyderabad city, 7,117 crore for state highways, and 6,770 crore for urban development. The state government also said it will recruit people to fill 27,903 government positions in the coming year.

Analysts said the budget was primarily aimed at the voters ahead of the assembly and Lok Sabha elections next year.

“It was more like an election-eve budget. There were lot of claims and cliches. It was more like government pamphlet listing out all their schemes," said K. Nageshwar, an independent member of the legislative council.

The state government has budgeted 7,117 crore for the power sector, and 13,700 crore towards the Jalayagnam water management scheme for development of irrigation infrastructure in the state that covers 32 major irrigation projects and 17 medium irrigation projects. The government has spent 67,208 crore towards the Jalayagnam project so far.

In what was a first for the state, the government presented a separate agriculture budget with a proposed expenditure of 25,962 crore for agriculture and allied sectors. The agriculture budget is modelled on the lines of the one in neighbouring Karnataka. The state is procuring equipment for the agriculture sector in the eventuality of natural calamities at an expenditure of 589 crore and will encourage the use of solar pump sets with a budget of 150 crore.

“Ultimately, for the agriculture budget, they have gobbled up funds from all the schemes. It is a good exercise in arithmetic," Nageshwar said. “They added up the funds of various related departments like animal husbandry, fisheries, horticulture and presented them under agriculture budget. It ( 25,000 crore) is not additional funds."

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