Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah faces challenges as he presents the State Budget on Friday, aiming to fulfil election promises amid increasing criticism from the Opposition and disputes with the central government over tax allocation.

Budget outlay

For the CM, who also holds the finance portfolio, the upcoming Budget will be his record 15th Budget, and 8th with the position of Chief Minister. Ahead of general elections, as the party looks to solidify its position, it is expected to increase its total Budget outlay to approximately ₹3.80 lakh crore, higher than last year’s ₹3,27,747 crore outlay.

The major focus of this Budget is expected to be on the funding for the five poll guarantees, addressing drought issues in rural agrarian lands and development of State capital Bengaluru.

Siddaramaiah’s government has been accused by the opposition of draining the coffers by accommodating the five guarantees promised during polls, and not addressing issues faced by farmers. The Chief Minister recently had protested in New Delhi claiming that the Centre has done “injustice” to Karnataka in tax devolution and disbursement of grants

Political analyst Sandeep Shastri said, “This is going to be a populist government with general elections around the corner. The party will focus on highlighting the importance of five guarantees and the change that it has brought about. Given Siddaramaiah’s experience, the Budget will be tactically crafted. Even as populist moves will be made, the government will not put an outright cap on capital expenditure.”

Even as Congress prioritises the five guarantees, the trade offs being made whether long-term to short-term, regional imbalance and overall growth rates would become important. Which issues will be prominently addressed is to be looked out for, and the State of revenue deficit will be a critical factor, said political analyst Narendra Pani.

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