Kerala Budget 2024: FM plans Rs 3 lakh crore private investments

| Updated: 06 February, 2024 1:25 pm IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a significant departure from its traditional socialist approach, the CPI(M)-led communist government of Kerala, under the stewardship of Finance Minister KN Balagopal, has revealed a budget aimed at revitalising the state’s economy through increased private investments.

The budget, a departure from the norm of primarily allocating funds to public and cooperative sectors, aims to address Kerala’s severe financial crisis by opening doors to private investments on an unprecedented scale.

With an anticipated revenue of Rs 1,84,327 crores against an expected Rs 1,38,655 crores, the state faces a revenue deficit equivalent to 2.12 per cent of its GDP, totaling Rs 27,846 crores.

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Finance Minister Balagopal outlined the government’s ambitious target of attracting Rs 3 lakh crores in investments over the next three years, particularly emphasising opportunities in education, tourism, and industry.

During the budget presentation, Balagopal underscored the government’s commitment to key infrastructure projects, including the Silverline semi-high-speed railway and the upcoming metro rail project in Thiruvananthapuram, pending approval from the Union government.

He also highlighted priority areas for investment, including tourism projects around Vizhinjam and Cochin ports, industrial corridors in Cochin, Palakkad, and Kannur, and IT-enabled services.

However, amidst his proposals for economic revival, Balagopal did not shy away from criticising the central government’s allocation of financial resources to Kerala, lamenting the state’s comparatively lower share.

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“We cannot afford to be passive spectators as Kerala faces its worst financial crisis,” Balagopal emphasised, rallying for a collective effort to reclaim the state’s constitutional rights.

In a bid to spur economic growth, the budget unveiled several key initiatives for the fiscal year 2024-25:

– The inauguration of the Vizhinjam International port in May, with plans for enhanced connectivity infrastructure.
– Establishment of Chinese-model Special Development Zones in Vizhinjam.
– Anticipated Rs 5,000 crore private investment in the tourism sector, with a focus on eco-tourism.
– Establishment of three Digital University centres.
– Development of 25 new private industrial parks.
– Creation of care centres for elderly persons, facilitated by private investment.
– Exploration of foreign university campuses and the introduction of private universities.
– Allocation of Rs 1698 crore for the agriculture sector and Rs 327 crore for fisheries.
– Implementation of livelihood projects through the Kudumbashree mission, with an allocation of Rs 430 crore.
– Investment of Rs 128.54 crore in the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and procurement of BS-6 diesel engine buses.

The budget also announced an increase in the minimum support price of rubber from Rs 170 to Rs 180, signalling support for the state’s agricultural sector.

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