Bengaluru, March 3: As the Karnataka budget gets presented this week, there are several areas which can be seriously revamped or optimized, given the poor and corruption-oriented formulation of the budgets all these years.
However, we would make two simple recommendations which, if executed well, will significantly benefit the Aam aadmi/ the common people of the State.
The average Govt spend on Health in Karnataka is Rs 1,328 per capita vs Rs 2,568 in Delhi. I.e., almost 50%. This is the reason that public health care in Karnataka is so poor and also the reason for thriving private hospitals, often owned or partnered by corrupt politicians.
In 2020-21 budget, Delhi planned to invest Rs 724 cr to progress its planned expansion of hospital beds from 10,000 beds to 26,000 beds. Similarly, with Rs 325 cr, the number of Mohalla clinics is being more than doubled from 425 to 1,000.
Karnataka spends just 3.8% of public expenditure on health and the growth has been extremely low. Between 2018-19 and 2020-21 estd, the growth in Health and Family Welfare expenses has been just 7%, which is lower than the inflation rate over two years.
On the other hand, Delhi spends 12% of its public expenditure on health. In 20-21, the planned increase over previous year was as high as 26%
We demand that Karnataka Govt increases its health spend by at least 30% per annum over the next 3 years so as to double the per capita spend over this time. This needs to be spent efficiently and effectively, rather than having large buckets of corruption
Karnataka’s weakness in having a very poor standard of Govt schools (leading to parents overwhelmingly preferring private schools in urban areas) has resulted in a huge crisis for parents and schools in this year of pandemic, when parent ran out of funds to be able to send their children to private schools. Spending only 13% on education and spending it poorly has led to poor results in Govt schools and therefore a lack of faith in them on the part of parents.
On the other hand, in Delhi, as much as 24% of the Govt budget is spent on public education. This has supported an all-round effort to increase the standards and the levels of satisfaction in Govt schools. As a result, children from Govt schools have got into the best colleges in India…443 students cleared the IIT Mains and 569 children passed the NEET medical entrance exam. The pandemic impact on school enrollment has been less in Delhi because of the huge support of high quality Govt schools
We demand that Karnataka increases its public spending on education to by 20% per year over four years so as to double the spend over this period. This should be invested effectively in developing a strong, high-standard Govt schools’ network that provides access to effective, free education to all children in the State.
Besides this, there are several areas where the Karnataka budget can be radically improved over the previous years:
Agriculture & Farmers
Karnataka is uniquely placed as it is one of the largest producers of not just food grains but is the leader in the field of horticulture. It was only this sector which had witnessed a growth in 2020-21, growing at 6.4 per cent
Farm sector needs more support now than ever. Farmers are looking forward to the announcement of scrapping the 3 farm laws in the state.
Integrated farming, organic farming & tech-based cropping innovations are the space where the Govt should invest in this year.
Govt’s continued focus needed in bringing 100% crop land under the crop insurance, expansion in MSP net, interest free loans even to the medium & small-scale farmers will enhance the confidence of farmer and growth of the sector.
Cluster based development of agricultural lands is not yet realized for 2 years, which needs to be started in this fiscal.
Cold storage & proper storage facilities at taluka levels to ensure stability and maximisation price for perishable items so farmers are able to market their products. Important items like tomato, onion, potato will be available for consumers at steady prices.
- significantly supporting the early pick up and use of EVs through short-term subsidies, waiving of road-tax and installation of charging stations
- developing East-West traffic corridors in the State
- substantially increasing the number of buses e.g., 15,000 to improve access to public transport
Revival of small businesses
Small businesses and self-employed have been hardest hit during the lockdown. A special revival package including “re-seed” funding and subsidizing of energy and other costs for a one-year period as well as a support for digitisation of their business (software, hardware, training) can help them get back on track
Support for senior citizens
Enhancement of the senior citizens pension scheme to enable senior citizens who have no other support to live a life of dignity.
Provision of free housing to “orphaned” + 75-year-old citizens
Free medical support to +75-year-old citizens at home
Decentralization of Budget (including Bengaluru)
Karnataka is a huge, diverse State with many regions requiring to deal with their own challenges and opportunities. This BJP Govt both at Centre and the State levels have centralized the decision-making of budget revenues and spends, resulting in lack of effectiveness because of being out-of-touch with local circumstances.
We propose that the budget be de-centralized to 6-7 zones with far more independence given to generate revenue opportunities and decide on spending priorities
Equality in distributing opportunity, wealth & development
It is increasingly seen that Bengaluru and surrounding areas take a major chunk of Budgetary announcements leaving behind the tier 2 & 3 cities. The aspirations of rural and backward areas of Karnataka are not taken seriously. Development of Karnataka should not be Bengaluru
State of Tamil Nādu has multiple cities (growth engines) which provides industrial and service sector growth and income which ensures equal distribution of wealth, employment and housing across the state. In order to reduce the vertical growth pressure of Bengaluru and improve the living conditions of all districts, distributed concentration and budgetary allocations need to be provided.
Women empowerment & safety
It is noted that budgetary allocation for Women empowerment is decreasing year on year.
In 2020-21 budget, Rs 4,650 cr (2%) was allocated for women empowerment which further declined to Rs 4531 cr in 21-22 (1%)
While small states like Delhi is providing ₹4,750 crore for the Department of Social Welfare, Women and Child Development, Karnataka Government should earmark greater portion for the development, safety, health and employment of women.
Delhi government innovative programs like Mahilla Mohalla clinics, Saheli Samanvey kendra, Ladli yojana, free bus travels besides providing CCTV cameras and marshals throughout the state has emphasized women saftey.
Reduce taxes on Petrol/ Diesel/ Gas
Karnataka Govt increased taxes on Petrol/ Diesel in Apr 2020 and though they reduced some taxes in Jan 2022, citizens are still facing tremendous pressure due to the high prices of petrol and gas. Now as international oil prices have increased, this burden could become even more and is not tolerable by the lower middle-class and the poor. Hence Govt must announce significant decreases in taxes on petrol and diesel to 20% from current 30%+ levels
Climate control and pollution reduction
- Significant spend required on solar energy sourced locally as close to the usage areas as well as to hydel power, while reducing the dependence on thermal power significantly
- Waste management in all urban and rural areas to re-generate energy and minimize landfills
Employment generation & start-up development
- Encouragement of start-ups across the State through Delhi model “Business Blasters” programme