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Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Monday (September 9) rejected centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme in favour of state’s Aarogya Sri medical health cover scheme for the poor. The chief minister, making the announcement in the legislative assembly said the state government is not interested in wasting public money on those programmes (central schemes) which are not beneficial to the people, according to media reports. 

K Chandrashekar Rao made this announcement during the presentation of the state budget for 2019-2020. He presented the budget in the assembly even though T Harish Rao assumed charge as the Finance Minister on Sunday (September 8). T Harish Rao presented the budget in the legislative council.

CM Rao claimed that Arogya Sri was more beneficial and had a wider outreach than the Ayushman Bharat scheme and that the government is spending Rs 1,336 crore a year to help 85.34 lakh families.

The CM said with Ayushman Bharat, the state is able to provide medical benefits only to the extent of Rs 250 crore a year benefiting only 26 lakh families while, through Arogya Sri, the government is extending services relating to 25 distinct organ transplant procedures free of cost which is not available under the AB scheme. The CM also said that the state will examine thoroughly all the central government schemes and will only implement the schemes which are beneficial to the people.

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During the past five years, the state spent Rs 5,37,373 crore on the welfare and development as pointed out in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Of this, the central government’s contribution for implementing its 24 schemes was just Rs 31,802 crore, the CM added.

“The Centre had not paid even a rupee more than this and I request members to take note of this, he said.

KCR blames Centre for slowdown in economy

The Chief Minister, an advocate of greater financial autonomy for the state, blamed the central government for the slowdown in the economy.

“Such a situation has emerged as the central government alone decides the broad fiscal policies in the country. The states have no option but to follow the fiscal policies of the Centre and Telangana is no exception, added CM Rao.

“We have to tread carefully and cautiously during such a testing time. We cannot go beyond certain limits. Against this backdrop of severe financial crunch we have discussed with several experts and with a practical approach prepared the 2019-20 budget proposals,” he said. 

Rao also said the state will bank on a dynamic approach to review and make changes as warranted depending on the states and national economy. He pointed out that the fall in growth rates across sectors has led to the overall reduction in revenues, both direct and indirect, for the Centre as well as the state.

The annual budget for 2019-20 has been downsized from Rs. 1.82 lakh crore to Rs. 1.46 lakh crore because revenues have fallen steeply, KCR said. Telangana had anticipated 15 per cent growth in tax revenue in 2019-20 whereas in the first quarter of 2019-20, only 5.46 per cent was realized.

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He also noted that the central government had expected a tax growth of 22.69 per cent in 2019-20 but ended up achieving only 1.36 per cent.

The state government has decided to allot funds to clear all backlogs and pending bills in all the departments on priority, the CM said.

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