The Annual Plan for the year 2013-14 for the state of Kerala was finalised here today at a meeting between Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister of Kerala, Sh. Oommen Chandy. The plan size has been agreed at Rs.17000 crore.
In his comments on the plan performance of the State, Mr Ahluwalia said that the State has done well on all fronts and performance in social sector is commendable. He said the State has set example before other States on improving implementation through innovative approach. He said the State has grown at 8% during 11th plan and in 2011-12 it has grown at 11.5%. Negative growth in agriculture is a matter of concern and State should focus on accelerating growth in this sector.
Complementing the State for acceleration in the development process, he said initiatives aimed at encouraging private participation in social and physical infrastructure development should continue. In social sector, human development indicators are showing improvement and State should take a lead in tackling problem of malnutrition among children. Appreciating the State for setting up capital development fund, he said the move will have catalytic affect in infrastructure development through PPP mode.
Mr Ahluwalia said that the Planning Commission would be shortly seeking cabinet approval to bring in flexibility in the implementation of centrally sponsored schemes. States would be allowed to seek State specific changes in the guidelines. He said States should work out changes required to make these programmes more effective.
The Chief Minister drew attention of the Commission to the plan performance and initiatives taken. He said the State was all set to grow at 9.58% during the current fiscal. He said the Government is keen to encourage Students™ Entrepreneurship in the State. In this year™s Budget, under various heads, Rs. 75 Crores have been allotted towards this end. Since unemployment of educated youth is a major problem in Kerala, Central support for this initiative is expected.
The educational loan scheme is a great help for the students to improve their skills and employability. However, the rate of interest on this loan is still very high and would expect the Planning Commission to recommend reduction in the rate of interest at par with priority sector lending rate.
Health has always been a high priority for the State. Kerala is facing acute problems due to ageing population, communicable and lifestyle diseases. Centre™s support will help provide free generic medicine to all in the first stage. The State intends providing universal health insurance in the text stage and right to health of all citizens in the final stage.
Acknowledging the concern on negative growth of agriculture, he said viability can be improved if interest free loan is provided in a targeted manner to genuine cultivators based on area cultivated. NABARD should provide adequate loans at the existing 7% interest through banks to genuine farmers.
He said the a major concern facing us now is the Nitaqat Policy of Saudi Arabia was a matter of concern to the State & can result in a large scale return of Keralites. The State will require Centre™s assistance in providing rehabilitation package for these people. State intends providing interest free loans up to Rs. 10 Lakhs where the interest will be subsidized equally by Centre and State. For those requiring loans between 10 Lakhs and 25 Lakhs, the State proposes to provide interest subsidies at the rate applicable to agriculture/ priority sectors.