Nearly four months after coming to power, MK Stalin-led DMK government has on Friday tabled the revised budget for Tamil Nadu for 2021-22 to present a financial roadmap to steer the state ahead from where the previous ADMK regime left after stepping down from power. Being the first budget of MK Stalin after assuming the office of the Chief Minister, he 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.
Moments after the session had begun on Friday, the opposition ADMK party had walked out of the assembly by voicing against the DMK for failing to fulfil the poll promises and for filing false cases against the partymen. An electronic device was placed before each legislator to access the budget electronically and ahead of the session, Chief Minister MK Stalin took to social media and wrote, "The first budget of our government is going to be presented as paperless budget today. It will be the start of the progress towards resurrecting TN (Tamil Nadu)." What's in the pack of Thiagarajan's budget and how was his captaincy? Let's take a look at the highlights and major announcements of the budget.
- The finance minister started his presentation with the affirmation that the budget has visionary schemes with the direction of Chief Minister MK Stalin. Thiagarajan said that a separate expert panel would be formed to receive the outstanding GST dues from the Union government.
- By citing that the revenue of the Union government has increased 69% due to the rise of taxes on petrol and diesel, he stated that the states are getting only a smaller portion of the revenue. He added that it's the responsibility of the Union government to provide relief to the beneficiaries of petrol and diesel.
- The finance minister said that the government will expedite the measures to rescue the encroached lands and it will establish a panel to manage the government lands and Semmozhi Kalaignar Award will be conferred every year.
- Rs 5 crore will be allotted to the excavation projects in Keezhadi, Sivakalai, Korkai, and Adichanallur. The government will also declare these places as protected areas and an open museum will be established in Keezhadi while the deep-sea excavation will also be conducted in Korkai and Alagankulam.
- The government will confer Semmozhi Award every year with the cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on June 3 to mark Kalaignar's birth anniversary. Rs 80 crore and Rs 29 crore will be allotted for the Tamil development and archaeological department respectively. The government will take steps to make Tamil an official language in all the departments.
- Rs 4,807 crore will be allotted for social security pensions and proper measures will be taken to fill 14,317 vacancies in the police department. Rs 8,930 crore has been allocated for the police department.
- The government will expedite the works of fast-tracking the trials of crimes committed against women and children. The government is affirmed to achieve the vision of Accident-free Tamil Nadu and Rs 500 crore will be allocated to carry out this vision.
- 1000 check dams will be built in ten years and Rs 1,713 crore is allotted for the justice department while Rs 1,360 crore is reserved for the disaster management department and Rs 111.24 crore will be allotted for cleaning the ponds.
- Rs 6,607 crore will be allotted to enhance the irrigation facility across Tamil Nadu and a forum for Climate change will be formed at the cost of Rs 500 crore to concentrate on Climate change and mitigation. Rs 433 crore will be allotted to construct new fishing ports in six places and ten beaches will be augmented with the help of the local bodies.
- Palanivel Thiagarajan noted that the DMK government has provided Rs 4000 for the rice ration cardholders as the Covid-19 relief fund, which is the highest Covid-19 relief fund in India. He said Rs 1,149 crore will be allotted for the fisheries and 1.27 crore houses in villages will be given drinking water facilities.
- Rs 400 crore will be allotted for the Union government's Swachh Bharat Mission and Rs 3 crore will again be provided as MLA constituency development fund. Rs 1,200 crore will be allocated to start Anna Resurrection Scheme to augment the basic infrastructure in villages. The underground drainage scheme will be implemented in the cities that have a population of over 1 lakh and the platforms and sidewalks will be enhanced to the use of physically disabled people.
- Singara Chennai 2.0 scheme will be implemented and measures will be taken to eradicate posters and hoardings in the public place. Integrated Environmental Monitoring Center will be established under the Pollution Control Board and measures will be taken to review the air quality of major cities.
- Rs 300 crore will be allotted to carry out Stalin's 'Namaku Naame' scheme in the name of Kalaingar Karunanidhi and Rs 1000 crore will be reserved to implement the Kalaignar Urban Development scheme.
- In a major announcement, Palanivel Thiagarajan said that the government will construct houses for 8,03,924 homeless families in five years. Rs 8,017 crore will be allotted for constructing 2,89,877 houses this year.
- Rs 3,954 crore will be allotted for Tamil Nadu's Slum Clearance Board and said that the government is affirmed to create a slum-free Tamil Nadu in ten years. Rs 623 crore will be allotted for obtaining 1000 new buses and the government will also review the possibilities of starting the Metro rail project in Madurai.
- The works for extending Metro rail services from Chennai Airport to Kilambakkam via Tambaram will begin soon. The government's subsidy for constructing houses will be increased to Rs 2.76 lakh and Rs 20,000 crore will be reserved as the guaranteed loan assistance for the women's self-help group.
- Rs 32,599 crore will be allotted to the school education department and transparent subsidy scheme will be implemented in transports and 1000 new buses will be bought with the help of Rs 623 crore from the German Development Bank. A distinct educational policy will be created for Tamil Nadu.
- Rs 20 crore will be allotted to establish smart classes in 865 secondary and higher secondary schools. The government will establish ten new arts and science colleges this year. Tamil Nadu is leading in the country in higher education by having one teacher for every 17 students and while the national average Gross Enrolment Ratio stands at 27.1%, Tamil Nadu's average stands at 51.4%.
- Roads will be widened up to 2,200 kilometres in ten years and Rs 5,369 crore will be allotted for higher education. The number of free ambulances will be increased to 1,303 and the employment offices of every district will be revived. Rs 741 crore will be allotted to procure medical equipment and new SIPCOT parks will be established in Tiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Sivagangai, Villupuram, Namakkal, Theni, and Nagapattinam.
- Maternity leave for the women state government employees will be increased from nine months to 12 months and Rs 409 crore will be allotted for providing uniforms for school students. With the view of benefiting the handloom weavers, Rs 490 crore will be allotted for procuring free dhoti and sarees for the poor people.
- Rs 1,725 crore will be allotted for the MGR Noon food programme and in hundred days, the government has recovered properties worth Rs 626 crore that belong to temples including 187 acres of land and 161 plots. Rs 225.62 crore will be allotted for youth and sports developments and Rs 3 crore will be allotted for constructing venues for sports in the constituencies that don't have them.
- Rs 187.59 crore will be allotted for the tourism department and 300 tourist spots in Tamil Nadu will be enhanced. In a major announcement that brought relief to the people of Tamil Nadu, Palanivel Thiagarajan has decreased the tax on petrol by Rs 3 per litre. It will be benefitting the middle class and working-class people and the government will incur the loss of Rs 1,160 crore as the sequel of decreasing the tax.
- The finance minister said that Tamil Nadu has the highest number of two-wheelers in India and though the Union government was responsible for the increase in petrol prices, the state government is decreasing the tax to benefit the people. By decreasing the tax, the price of petrol will come down below Rs 100 per litre and it has been reported that the petrol price will be coming down below Rs 100 per litre in Tamil Nadu for the first time in India.
- Rs 4,142 crore will be allotted for tribal welfare and Rs 6 crore will be allotted for enhancing mosques and churches. The finance minister said that providing monthly emolument of Rs 1,000 for homemakers will be an important scheme of the government and asserted that the poll promises of the DMK will gradually be fulfilled.
- Rs 8,437 crore will be allotted as food subsidy and the government has spent Rs 9,370 crore in Covid-19 relief measures. Rs 17,899 crore will be allotted for the highways department. The finance minister assured that Rs 1,000 monthly emoluments, which is one of the poll promises, will be implemented after identifying the beneficiaries and the loan amount of Rs 2,756 crore, that was provided to the women's self-help groups will be waived off.
- Palanivel Thiagarajan had finished his budget presentation, which lasted for three hours, at 1 pm following which the session has been adjourned. As the 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.