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Announcing a Rs 20,000 crore package to tide over the crisis induced by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal presented the maiden budget of the second Pinarayi Vijayan government here on Friday. Besides the financial package, he also set aside Rs 1,000 crore to provide free vaccination for everyone aged above 18 years.

An additional 500 crore would be spent to ensure related equipment and facilities for free vaccination, he said.

The previous government had allotted Rs 20,000 crore which had been fully utillised to face the pandemic, he said.

“A second COVID-19 package of Rs 20,000 crore is announced now,” the finance minister said.

Stating that the thrust of the new budget would be to ensure health and food for all, he said the effort would be to reduce the impact of the pandemic and ensure there is no third wave of the virus infection in the state.

“We will consider the concerns over the third wave of the pandemic. The health emergency existing is a challenge to the development prospects of the state,” he said.

The budget also announced a revival package for the coastal regions which had suffered widespread destruction recently due to sea incursion and incessant rains.

Balagopal presented a ‘revised budget’ and vote on account with certain necessary changes and additions to the full budget presented by former Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac for 2021-22 fiscal on January 15.

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