Kerala Budget: FM announces Rs 20,000 cr COVID package, Rs 1,500 cr for free vaccination


Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala): Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal on Friday announced a second COVID-19 financial package of Rs 20,000 crore in his maiden budget of the new Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.

“In the early days of the pandemic, a Covid package of Rs 20,000 crore was announced to help those affected by Covid restrictions, including lockdowns, especially workers. In the wake of the second wave, the second Covid package of Rs 20,000 crore is being announced to address the emerging health, social and economic challenges. The package provides Rs 2800 crore for health emergencies, Rs 8900 crore for direct disbursement to people, and Rs 8300 crore for various loans and interest subsidies aimed at financial revival,” said Balagopal.

He also announced Rs 1500 crore for procuring vaccines for those above 18 years of age. “The Central Government is withdrawing from the obligation to vaccinate persons above 18 years of age. But the state government cannot shirk its primary responsibility. Therefore, I set apart Rs 1000 crore for the purchase of free vaccine for all those above 18 years of age and Rs 500 crore for the purchase of allied equipment. A flawless system will be planned for the distribution of the vaccine,” said Finance Minister.

Some other announcements related to the health sector include Rs 50 crore for special isolation block for infectious diseases in all Medical Colleges, a 10-bed isolation ward in all hospitals, and special pediatric ICUs in hospitals.

In the agricultural sector, the Finance Minister promised infrastructure refinancing from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to Primary Co-operative Societies (PACS) at a 4 per cent interest rate to be made available through Kerala Bank.

“The aim is to provide loans of Rs 2,000 crore in the financial year 2021-22. The government will also provide low-interest rate loans for new ventures in the agro-industrial and service sectors and for the revival of existing non-operational enterprises. It is aimed to provide loans worth Rs. 1600 crore in 2021-22,” Balagopal said.

He further stated that Rs 1000 crore credit will be provided to Kudumbashree self-help groups through bank loans during the financial year 2021-22.

“All loans up to Rs 5 lakh will be available at 4 per cent interest. An amount of Rs 100 crore is set apart for bearing the interest on subsidised loan schemes,” said the state Finance Minister. (ANI)