Budget 2013: Mixed reactions from Kerala

Kerala`s ruling United Democratic Front welcomed the Union Budget for 2013-14 as a balanced one.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala`s ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) on Thursday welcomed the Union Budget for 2013-14 as a balanced one bringing a bit to cheer to the state while the opposition CPI-M dismissed it as a "wet cracker" and mere tinkering.

State Finance Minister KM Mani, who is getting ready to present his 11th state budget, said that Chidambaram`s budget is neither a populist one nor one that hurts.

"Of course, there are certainly good things like the attempt to reduce the fiscal deficit from 5.2 percent to 4.8 percent. Also the agricultural sector has got a fair deal. The farmers will now be able to get loans at four percent. Also there appears to be increase in allocation in key sectors like HRD, education, health and rural development," Mani told reporters here.

Kerala has got Rs 75 crore for strengthening its coconut plantation and coir sectors.

The proposed Kochi Metro Rail also figured in the budget with an allocation of Rs 130 crore for it and also Rs 6.80 crore for the Kochi special economic zone.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and former state finance minister Thomas Issac, however, termed the budget nothing but a "wet cracker".

"Chidambaram has done some tinkering and after giving five lakh crores (of rupees) by way of tax sops to the rich and the corporate sector in the past five years, he has taxed the super rich to the extent of 10 percent and that too only for one year," Issac said.

"There is nothing in the budget and where is he going to find the revenues?," asked Issac, who presented five state budgets (2006-11).

There was, however, all-round cheer for the proposed all-women public sector bank.