In the run up to Union Budget 2015, M Suchitra speaks to Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani to draw up a list of the state’s expectations from the budget this year
As an immediate measure to revive the sector, the Centre should raise the import duty of natural rubber from the current 20 per cent to 40 per cent. Rubber sector can be brought under the ambit of the new “Make in India” scheme. The Central government must declare a scheme for supporting rubber growers with soft interest loans from banks.
On the new Goods and Services Tax (GST)
The GST Council representing the Centre and states needs to act as a platform for states to discuss and negotiate as equal partners to ensure the success of the new tax policy.
The state needs Central assistance for enhanced public investment for promotion of agricultural growth and for marketing of agricultural produce.
A special package for reviving state’s economy focusing on infrastructural development and industrial growth is indispensable. Development of major roads and minor ports can be taken up under this package. We expect adequate Central assistance for infrastructure development of the state.
On social welfare schemes
We have drawn up an ambitious plan called Zero Landless Citizen Kerala to provide affordable housing to all beneficiary families. We hope that the Centre will consider assisting this programme favourably.
On higher education
The state government wants to get special assistance to set up medical colleges with best treatment facilities in all 14 districts of the state to ensure quality health services under the public sector. The Centre must give special assistance for upgradation of the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram into a national cancer institute.
On the state’s debt situation
The Centre has recognised Kerala as a debt-stressed state. It should write off the state's dues as recommended by the 13th Finance Commission.
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