Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam has on Tuesday presented the interim budget for the state for 2021-22, amid being surfaced with anticipations over rolling out the fresh initiatives ahead of the assembly polls in which the ruling ADMK hopes to have a landslide victory and to form a new government for the third consecutive time.
Along with serving as the Deputy Chief Minister, Panneerselvam has also been serving as the Finance Minister and he has presented his 11th budget on Tuesday at Kalaivanar Arangam, the hall which will be hosting the assembly session temporarily owing to the COVID-19 protocol. As Panneerselvam had presented his 11th budget, he is going to create history by becoming the only Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu to present 11 budgets.
As the interim budget will be the last for this assembly, the political observers had expected that the Finance Minister will unveil a pack of fresh initiatives to cover and attract the people to vote for the party in the upcoming assembly polls. Besides the history, let's take a look into what was in the pack of the interim budget. Panneerselvam had begun presenting the budget only to witness the ruckus from the opposition DMK and allied members.
DMK members led by Deputy Opposition leader Duraimurugan had staged a walkout by accusing the Speaker of not granting time to address the house. The DMK and its allied Congress members had boycotted the budget session and Panneerselvam had presented the budget amid the half-deserted hall. Using the session as the campaign for the upcoming assembly polls, Panneerselvam said that the government has completed its full term and also enabled Tamil Nadu to emerge as the top state on several fronts.
The Deputy Chief Minister had asserted that people have full faith in the ADMK government. Rewinding the governance of Edappadi Palaniswami that steered with incessant challenges and allegations, Panneerselvam said that Tamil Nadu continues to attract large-scale industrial investment even during the testing times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Finance Minister has appreciated Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami-led government for taking efforts towards containing the spread of the pandemic.
By citing that the state revenue has decreased due to COVID-19, Panneerselvam admitted that the expenditure has soared high. In the interim budget, the Finance Minister said Rs 12,000 crore has been allocated for farm loan waiver while Rs 144 crore has been allotted for Amma Clinics, one of the state-owned projects launched in the name of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The Finance Minister said that the revenue deficit is estimated at Rs 41,437 crore for this year.
The Finance Minister had allocated Rs 21,218 crore for Rural Development while Higher Education has got Rs 5,478 crore. Panneerselvam said 12,000 new buses will be acquired of which 2,000 will be e-buses. The government has set aside Rs 19,420 crore for healthcare and Rs 7,217 for the power sector. The government has said that the people living under Below Poverty Line (BPL) will get health insurance coverage. The state government will provide health insurance to 55.67 lakh families living in poverty and the coverage is of Rs 2 lakh and will be provided to a family if the family head dies due to natural causes and Rs 4 lakh for accidental death.
The Finance Minister had allocated Rs 9,577 crore to the police department which is Rs 691 crore higher than the last year. While the government had allotted Rs 11,894 crore for agriculture, it also has allotted 1,02,000 crore for government employees and pensioners, and computer science subject will be included from classes 6 to 10 in the government schools. The government reserved Rs 6,941 crore for Cauvery- South Vellaru river link project.
The government has allotted Rs 2,470 crore for the construction of eleven new medical colleges and the state will get additional 1,650 seats. The Finance Minister had set aside Rs 440 crore for rural roads and Rs 18,750 crore for highways. Rs 8,834 crore has been allocated for power subsidy. In what has become one of the significant announcements, Coimbatore is going to become the second city in Tamil Nadu after Chennai to have a metro rail service. The government had announced the launch of the metro rail project in Coimbatore and it has reserved Rs 6,683 crore for the key project.
The Finance Minister has set aside Rs 34,181 crore for school education and Rs 3,700 crore for PM Urban Housing Scheme. Panneerselvam said that Tamil Nadu's debt was Rs 4.87 lakh crore as on March 31, 2020, and the total debt is likely to go up to Rs 5.7 lakh crore by the end of March 31, 2021. The projection of the debt is one of the highest in India, which the experts say would push the state to brace up more financial distress and deficit as it is feared that Tamil Nadu will go into a state where its economy will decrease and it will push the state to become insolvent.
Panneerselvam's budget speech has lasted for nearly two hours and in his concluding remark, the Finance Minister said that Tamil Nadu people will not trust anyone other than the government headed by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. Panneerselvam said, "Tamil Nadu people will not trust anyone other than the government headed by Palaniswami. We will return to power to complete all the works and projects as listed in the interim budget".
While it was expected that Finance Minister may announce more loan waivers including education loans and the loans of Self-help groups run by women, the budget carried no such waivers. Following the interim budget, the Business Advisory Committee had decided to conduct the session until February 27, 2021.