A budget, in simple terms, is a statement presented by the government (here Finance Minister) to the State Assembly or the Parliament outlining the government’s probable expenditure for the ensuing financial year and the revenue needed to meet this expenditure. This includes proposed taxes to raise this money.
Karnataka’s coalition government of JD(S) and Congress presented the budget for 2018-19 on July 5, 2018. The Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, being the Finance Minister also, submitted his own budget of Rs. 2,13,734 crore, refusing the request of Siddharamaiah to accept his budget submitted in Feb. 2018 for Rs. 2,09,181 crore and continue his projects and programmes. Since the elections happened in May 2018 the new Assembly, by not accepting Siddharamaiah’s budget, as mandated passed the vote on account for three months. Now it is for the new government to follow its new budget.
The question is how good or bad this H.D. Kumaraswamy budget is? It is a curate’s egg, say some budget pundits.
Last five years of Siddharamaiah government had neither economic direction nor healthy social purpose. Its objective was to appropriate available funds for building the vote bank for Congress party. So it doled out free or subsidised food items to the BPL and APL card holders and indulged in pampering the minorities, to the exclusion of the upper caste Hindus. For example, Tipu Jayanti was imposed on an unwilling majority. An effort was made to divide a harmonious brotherhood of Veerashaiva-Lingayat religion. In retrospect, I can say, Siddharamaiah, who got 78 seats in this election, would have got the needed 113 seats but for these unwise decisions.
Looking at the way Siddharamaiah went about his so-called egalitarian, social welfare schemes of grants and subsidies, it seems that in the long run it would adversely affect the economic development of our State.
I am reminded of what an American Journalist wrote about the Economic Incentives the US government had introduced to help the poor. He said, “We were just beginning to create the now famous Economic Incentives for husbands to desert their wives, for women to have children without husbands and for all sorts of healthy people to not work.” This was the comment on US Programme of Aid to families with dependant children. Let it be. It is axiomatic that any programme that would make any section of the people lazy is not good for the faster development of a country.
We understand that for H.D. Kumaraswamy, an accidental Chief Minister, it is pay-back time. In fact his election promise of “farmers’ loan waiver within 24 hours of his coming to power” turned out to be an albatross round his neck. He could not deliver this election promise in its totality though managed it partially.
Unfortunately, his budget has exposed him as being partial to the four districts — Ramanagara, Mandya, Mysuru and Hassan — from where he got majority of his 38 seats. This approach to governance goes against the sacred oath he has taken as Chief Minister. But rarely these rulers abide by the spirit and intent of the oath. Kumaraswamy can’t be an exception.
Now look at some of the budget allocation for projects and schemes. The Hale Unduvadi drinking water project, 4 kms up the KRS backwaters. The advantage is that water can be brought to city and 92 villages around it through gravity saving on pumping. The main pumping station needs 80 acres of land but this land has already been sold by the (greedy or corrupt) KIADB to a realtor and property developer, knowing that MUDA had already proposed a drinking water project here and it would need land. HDK’s budget provides Rs. 50 crore. A joke indeed. If the sale of this land is annulled, the compensation to be paid will be more than Rs. 50 crore. Alternatively, the government may ask the purchaser to agree for an alternative land. All this exercise will surely delay the project to the point of abandoning it thus giving advantage to the purchaser! And that is what the corrupt in the government want. Thirst for bribe takes precedence over the thirst for drinking water.
By the way, the original estimated cost was Rs. 327 crore and this Rs. 50 crore seems, in the opinion of a politician, a mere expression of this government’s intent, nothing more !
Now, consider the number of Universities proposed in the budget and for what disciplines? Film University, Sports and Body Building University, Homeland Security University, Tourism University etc. What about Kite Flying University? Making a mockery of the word and meaning of a University. All these disciplines could be taught as a designated department under the existing Universities. Like the Fine Arts College (ಲಲಿತ ಕಲೆಗಳ ಕಾಲೇಜು) where music, dance, drama are taught under the Mysore University. The Medical and Engineering Universities must inevitably be excluded. At a time the government is facing a financial resource crunch, unable even to appoint lecturers, why this kind of wasteful investment. I request our readers to drive or walk around the vast area of Manasagangothri where many new and old buildings are abandoned like ghost houses.
Now talk of creating a Disneyland at Brindavan Gardens in KRS. I have seen three Disneylands including the one in Tokyo, Japan, known as Disney World. Is the land available at KRS enough for an ambitious project like this? Is it safe to have a Disneyland under the menacing, intimidating massive dam with water gushing from its crest gates, specially during monsoon? It is as ridiculous as Modi saying he would make Mysuru like Paris. Irresponsible statement and we gullible people believe these utterances. The budget allocated for Kumaraswamy’s Disneyland is Rs. 5 crore. Impossible. But, a Kumaranna’s fan tells me it is only for preparing the Project Report. So be it.
Our city has an industrial area — Hebbal Industrial Area. As years pass, we find more and more residential colonies mushrooming here nudging out many industries considered polluting ones. Soon, we may need an Industrial Township Authority of Mysuru or Hebbal, taking the area out of MUDA, KIADB and Mysuru City Corporation. Has this government any solution for this problem?
If this kind of budget is presented in the future, Karnataka will face the danger of a split — as Old Mysuru and North Karnataka — just as the split of Andhra Pradesh, paradoxically a State that was the cause for the formation of the Linguistic States. We are warned.