MK Stalin's first budget: Thanks for reducing the petrol price, but there is much to do!

Pouring a major relief to the Tamil Nadu people through the very first and historical budget, MK Stalin-led DMK government has on Friday announced that the petrol price in the state will be reduced. On Friday, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan has presented the revised budget for Tamil Nadu 2021-22, which has become the first budget of MK Stalin as the Chief Minister. His government was surfaced with large expectations over fulfilling the poll promises that the party has made during the elections and addressing the ailing financial crisis of the state, triggered by the growing debts and deficits. 

The budget session has begun on Friday during which the captain of the budget, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan had presented the revised budget at 10 am in the assembly. In what has become a historical session, Tamil Nadu had seen many firsts in the budget session, besides the first budget of MK Stalin. 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 in 25 years to be written by a finance minister in his own hands rather than 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 has also become the first budget in twenty years to be presented with the prelude of the 'White paper' of the finances. With a slew of histories, the budget session had naturally attracted keen attention from across the state and in the albeit of transformations, Palanivel Thiagarajan had unveiled the budget on Friday with a Himalayan task of meeting the expectations from the people over the poll promises and to addressing the financial uncertainty towards having a proper revenue channel to the state's exchequer. 

While he had batted that the taxes would be increased in certain areas during he released the White paper on finances, the budget was keenly watched by the people to know whether there were any bitter ingredients. They also expected to have some relief from the financial distress and hoped for announcements from the Finance Minister in fulfilling the poll promises of the DMK. One of the major demands that the Stalin government had faced in reducing the taxes on petrol as the middle class and working-class people can't afford the fuel when the price of per litre petrol had crossed Rs 100 for the first time in Tamil Nadu's history. 

Reducing petrol price was one of the hundreds of poll promises the DMK had made during the state elections and four months after coming to power, the government has now reduced the price amid facing a severe financial crisis. In his budget presentation on Friday, finance minister Palanivel Thiagarajan had announced a reduction of Rs 3 in the state tax for one litre of petrol. He said that he was instructed by the Chief Minister to provide some relief to the working class and middle-class people, many of whom owned two-wheelers and used petrol-run vehicles for their transportation. 

According to reports, the reduction of state tax on per litre of petrol would bring petrol prices below Rs 100 per litre and Tamil Nadu has become the first state to reduce the state tax on petrol and to bring down the petrol price. Presently, one litre sells for Rs 102.51 in the state and MK Stalin's decision to reduce the petrol price had drawn huge commendation as it may pour a relief to millions of people and it will also put more pressure on other states to invoke such reduction in their respective territories. Thanks for reducing the petrol price, but it's the tip of the iceberg of poll promises for the DMK government. 

The DMK had promised to reduce petrol prices by Rs 5 and diesel by Rs 4 per litre. While it has come close to meet the promise of reducing the petrol price, it is yet to deliver the promise of reducing the diesel price and provide a Rs 100 subsidy for every LPG cylinder. During his speech, Palanivel Thiagarajan said that the government would incur the loss of Rs 1,160 crore per year by reducing the state tax per litre of petrol. Though Tamil Nadu had become the first state in India to reduce the petrol price in recent times, the finance minister had admitted that the DMK government is not in the position of fulfilling all of its election promises in one shot in light of the huge revenue deficit. He mentioned that the revenue deficit stands at Rs 58,692 crores. 

According to reports, the reduction of petrol would come to effect from the midnight of Friday and per litre of petrol will be traded at around Rs 98. The Finance Minister also said that other election promises like waiving off of jewel loans and farm loans taken from the state co-operative banks would be fulfilled so does the waiver of the educational loans taken by students. One of the major poll promises of DMK is providing a Rs 1,000 emolument for homemakers. It was strongly expected that there would be an announcement regarding the promise in the budget and speaking about this, the finance minister assured that Rs 1,000 emolument would also be implemented in due course after identifying the beneficiaries.

As Palanivel Thiagarajan had suggested a tax increase in the white paper of the finances, it was anticipated that there would be a tax increase in vehicle tax and property tax and there would be an increase in the electricity tariff and bus fares as the electricity and transport departments have more debts. However, there have been no announcements regarding the increase in taxes or fares and the reports say that the government had refrained from increasing the fares in light of the local body elections. Palanivel Thiagarajan had finished his budget presentation, which lasted for three hours, at 1 pm following which the session has been adjourned. As the historical first budget of the MK Stalin's government has been presented, the Chief Minister has paid respect to former Chief Ministers and DMK leaders Aringnar Annadurai and Kalaignar Karunanidhi at their respective memorials. The state's first agricultural budget will be presented on Saturday.