Amid being shouldered with more expectations of new reforms and schemes to fulfil the promises of the DMK government, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan has on Friday- March 18 tabled the state's budget for 2022-23 in the state assembly house. Drawing huge attention, the finance minister has grabbed the spotlight over his fresh announcements of schemes as he has laid down the financial road map for the state for the upcoming year.
Though it is the second budget for the ruling DMK government, it has become the first full-fledged budget of Palanivel Thiagarajan and for the second time in the row, the state has opted for an e-budget. Tamil Nadu has been a crucial corridor in the country's economy and in the midst of the financial crisis and the efforts to bring back the state from the pandemic-ridden downfall, the budget aims to put the state on the development track by containing the financial deficits.
According to reports, data-driven governance, social safety net, environmental sustainability, and inter-generational equity, were among the key focus areas of this year's budget. At the beginning of his speech, Palanivel Thiagarajan had expressed deep concern at the persistent attempts to erode the federal architecture of the policy. He said, "The makers of our constitution envisaged a harmonious relationship between the Union and states, built on the foundations of the state economy and true federalism."
Highlights of the Budget:
- For the first time in several years, the revenue deficit has been plunged. The finance minister said that the revenue deficit has been brought down by Rs 7,000 crore. The revised budget estimate has pegged the revenue deficit at Rs 58,692.68 crore for 2021-22. The finance minister said that Chief Minister MK Stalin has requested the Centre for extension of the GST compensation period, which ends in June 2022, by two years.
- A separate organization will be established for Climate Change and green initiatives. Funds for these establishments would be raised from aided institutions and special social media monitoring cells will be formed by the government within the police department. This special unit will be curbing the misinformation spread on social media and its related crimes.
- Rs 50 crore has been allotted for the 'Naan Mudhalvan' scheme, which is the Chief Minister's project for upgrading skills for students. Fire department has been allocated Rs 496 crore in the Tamil Nadu budget. Rs 500 crore is reserved for flood mitigation projects.
- The finance minister said that all assistance would be provided to students who had discontinued their education in Ukraine due to the ongoing war. The state government would be implementing 'Project Nilgiri Tahr' to protect and conserve Tamil Nadu's 'State Animal'.
- To provide quality medical care, the quality of government hospitals in Tamil Nadu will be further enhanced and a budget of Rs 1,019 crore has been allocated for this project in the budget.
- One of the important reforms of the budget, the Finance Minister has announced that all girl students in Tamil Nadu who studied from Classes 6 to 12 in government schools will be provided Rs 1000 per month directly into their bank account till the uninterrupted completion of their undergraduate degree, diploma, and ITI courses. The scheme will be benefitting five lakh girl students.
- The government has allocated Rs 250 crore to enhance the government colleges and Rs 5 crore has been reserved for the works to translate Thanthai Periyar's writings in 21 languages, including foreign languages. Mobile information centres would be launched for migrant workers. This scheme will cover Kancheepuram, Tirupur, and Tiruvallur in the first phase.
- Rs 50 crore is allotted for emerging sector seed funds. Besides that, Rs 30 crore has been allocated towards Tamil Nadu Start-up and Innovative Mission for promoting start-ups in Tamil Nadu. New museums will be built this year in Villupuram and Ramanathapuram districts at an estimated cost of Rs 10 crore.
- Tamil Nadu will get 2,000 electric buses and the finance minister has informed the house that Chief Minister MK Stalin's scheme to provide free transportation for women in buses had worked well. Rs 82.86 crore has been allotted to the Tamil Development Department.
- The government has allotted Rs 4,816 crore in the budget for various social security pension schemes such as Old Age pension, destitute widow pension, and pension for differently-abled.
- On the front of loan waivers, the government has announced a sum of Rs 2,531 crore for the waiver of agricultural loans, a sum of Rs 1,000 crore for the waiver of jewel loans, and a sum of Rs 600 crore for waiving self-help group loans, totalling an amount of Rs 4,131 crore.
- The state government has allotted Rs 10 crore towards augmenting the disaster early warning system in Chennai. The fund would be spent to install a network of automatic weather stations and rain gauges, weather radars, and weather balloons.
- In yet another significant announcement, the finance minister said that to motivate government school students to aspire to join top higher educational institutions like IIT, AIIMS, and IISC, the Tamil Nadu government will bear the full cost of undergraduate education of students who studied in the government schools from classes 6 to 12.
- The finance minister further announced that over the next five years, a special scheme will be implemented to create new classrooms, hostels, laboratories, and smart classrooms in the higher education sector at a total cost of Rs 1,000 crore.
- Tamil Nadu will be establishing 'Perasiriyar Anbazhagan (Dravidian stalwart and DMK's former general secretary) School Development Scheme' to modernise government schools over the next five years. The government will construct 18,000 new classrooms.
- The government announced the allocation of Rs 25 crore towards a programme to develop world-class athletes and Olympic medalists from Tamil Nadu. A special fund of Rs 60 crore will be provided to create basic infrastructure in the six newly-formed corporations of Tambaram, Kanchipuram, Kumbakonam, Karur, Cuddalore, and Sivakasi at Rs 10 crore each. Rs 2 crore each will be provided for 28 new municipalities.
- Chennai will be hosting Chess Olympiad this year. The government will provide its full cooperation and Rs 25 crore is allotted for training students for the global competition. Model schools will be opened in another 15 districts in the state at a cost of Rs 125 crore.
- Rs 500 crore is allotted for Singara Chennai 2.0 project and Rs 2,800 crore is allotted for the Mahatma Gandhi Urban Employment scheme. Rs 1,547 crore is allotted for Chief Minister's Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme.
- Tamil Nadu's outstanding debt as on March 31, 2023, will be Rs 6,53,348.73 crore after excluding back to back loan for GST Compensation shortfall released by the Indian government.