In MK Stalin's budget, Tamil Nadu will see many firsts: What we can expect?

Tamil Nadu is ready to witness the first budget of MK Stalin as the Chief Minister and besides being Stalin's first budget, it would also be historical in introducing significant changes and transformations. In the midst of carrying more expectations, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan, who is the captain of the budget, is shouldered with the Himalayan task of addressing the financial crisis and fulfilling some of the key poll promises of the DMK government. As he already signalled to bat more taxes for the rich, his 'white paper' on finances would play a major role in the revised budget. 

Besides being the first budget of MK Stalin, it will also mark many firsts and carving a history. It is the first e-budget for Tamil Nadu - each MLA would be given an electronic device in which they can access the budget rather than the preceding era of paper budgets. It would be the first revised budget to be presented outside of the Chief Secretariat- the budget session will be hosted by Kalaivanar Hall in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. It would be the first budget to be written by a finance minister in his own hands rather depending on the authorities, and it would be the first budget session for Tamil Nadu where a separate budget will be presented for Agriculture. 

It will also become the first budget in twenty years to be presented with the prelude of the 'White paper' of the finances and not to forget that Thiagarajan will be presenting his first budget. According to reports, being paced with many firsts, the budgetary session will begin on August 13 during which the finance minister will be presenting the revised budget of the DMK government with anticipations over how MK Stalin is going to deal with the economy and growing fiscal and revenue deficits. Palanivel Thiagarajan, an experienced hand in finances, would draw major attention over his approach towards revenue and financial stability. As per the White paper, the state has total debt of Rs 5.70 lakh crore and if the total debt is shared among the state's public, every family carries a debt of Rs 2.63 lakh.

While the Chief Minister is surfaced with the questions of fulfilling the DMK's poll promises, it is expected that the finance minister will echo his statements during releasing the white paper and announce a tax hike in the areas where he said were intact for many years including Motor Vehicles Tax and Property Tax. He pressed that the rich must be taxed more while more revenue to the state coffers would be used for development schemes for the poor. The White paper on the finances had claimed that Tamil Nadu has lower tax rates than many states, leading to continued losses in revenue and the finance minister had also said that the people should brace up bitter medicines, hinting that there may be an increase in taxes and fares of services.

Palanivel Thiagarajan had said that the financial reforms are the need of the hour and asserted that the government can't function without a proper taxation channel. He said, "The past government has boasted of zero taxation, but that is not what a good government should do. A good government should collect reasonable taxes from the economically progressed and use them for welfare works like providing water facilities, laying roads, and providing pensions."  He also said that 26 Public Sector Units out of 60 are incurring losses and the financial condition of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) and State Transport Unit (STU) has been at the brink of collapse as these two sectors have a debt of over Rs 2 lakh crore.

While hoping on tax hike to increase the revenue, it's imperative for the DMK government in addressing and fulfilling the poll promises, that helped the party to take over the reign. The DMK is in the riskier state that it has to balance the economic stability and roll out some of the key poll promises failing which will pour more Achilles' heel to the opposition parties. People are expecting that there will be announcements of schemes benefitting them and providing monthly emolument of Rs 1,000 for homemakers. It is also been expected that the DMK government would allocate more funds to the health department to enhance the health infrastructure and announcement regarding the jewel loan waiver for the farmers at the cooperative banks. 

As Tamil Nadu is just a month away to host local body elections in the nine districts, it has also been expected that the budget would be presented with several freebies for the public. With affirmation from Palanivel Thiagarajan that the white paper doesn't have anything to do with the poll promises, it's less likely that he refrain from announcing the schemes to fulfil the poll promises. The budgetary session will be held till September 21 and following the revised budget, Agriculture Minister MRK Panneerselvam will be presenting the Agriculture Budget on 14th August. It must be noted that the first session of the 16th Tamil Nadu Assembly was held on June 21 with the customary address of Governor Banwarilal Purohit.