Siddaramaiah to present record 13th state budget on Friday

Bengaluru, Feb 14 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who also holds the Finance portfolio, would set a record of sorts on Friday by presenting his 13th state budget and 6th in a row, an official said on Wednesday.

Siddaramaiah will present the budget for 2018-19 on Friday though it will not be a full-fledged budget but a vote-on-account budget in view of the upcoming election, an official in the Chief Minister’s office told IANS.

The 70-year-old leader presented 12 budgets so far, six as the Congress Chief Minister since 2013 and seven as Deputy Chief Minister in the first Congress-Janata Dal coalition government in 2005–07 and in the then Janata Dal-United (JD-U) government from 1995-2000.

Siddaramaiah presented the state budget for seven times under three Chief Ministers – twice under H.D Deve Gowda in 1995 and 1996, three times under J.H. Patel of the JD-U in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and under Congress’ N. Dharam Singh in 2005 and 2006, the official said.

Siddaramaiah is also the second in the southern stateA to complete the five-year term as Chief Minister – 40 years after Devaraj Urs (1972-78) as about 10 Chief Ministers of three parties could not compete their full term in between for various reasons.

Siddaramaiah switched over to the Congress from the JD-S in August 2006 following differences with its supreme and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and his second son and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

“Though it will be a vote-on-account, in view of the assembly election in April-May, it will have allocations for various ministries and new proposals for people’s welfare,” said the official, who did not want to be named.

According to sources in the state Finance Ministry, the budget would have higher allocation in the health sector to extend the state government’s flagship ‘Arogya Bhagya’ healthcare insurance to various sections, including farmers, artisans, senior citizens, state employees and workers in the civic bodies.

“The budget is also like to see higher allocation for education, housing, irrigation, agriculture, energy and infrastructure, especially for Bengaluru as it is the IT capital of the country,” said the official.

In the event of the Congress retaining power and Siddaramaiah becoming Chief Minister again, he could present his 14th state budget in July.

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