Tamil Nadu Minister for Human Resource and Finance PTR Palaivel Thiagarajan Friday presented MK Stalin-led DMK government’s maiden budget. For the first time in the history of the Tamil Nadu assembly, a paper-less budget was presented. Before presenting the revised budget for 2021-22, the Finance Minister said identifying the problem is the first step before solving them and that was the reason behind publishing the ‘White Paper’ on state’s finances.
Before the Finance Minister could begin his speech, the AIADMK MLAs staged a walkout as the Speaker denied the Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami’s appeal to speak before the budget session could commence.
Petrol price slashed
In a relief to the working class in the state, the Finance Minister said petrol price has been slashed by Rs 3 per litre on the directions of Chief Minister MK Stalin. The decision is expected to cost Rs 1,160 crore to the state exchequer.
According to the budget presented by the Tamil Nadu Finance Minister, the overall revenue expenditure is expected to be Rs 2,61,188.57 crore.
Thiagarajan said given that the economy is still recovering from the impact of successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, the time is not yet ripe for fiscal consolidation. “Revenue deficit for the year 2021-22 is expected to go up from the unrealistic Interim Budget Estimates of Rs 41,417.30 crore to Rs 58,692.68 crore in the Revised Budget Estimates 2021-22,” he said.
The overall capital outlay for the revised budget has been scaled down to Rs 42,180.97 crore from the Rs 43,170.61 crore provided in the Interim Budget.
“On this basis, the fiscal deficit for the financial year 2021‑22 is estimated to be at Rs 92,529.43 crore in the Revised Budget Estimates 2021-22,” he added.
He added that through improved administration and plugging of leakages, revenue collections can be substantially stepped up. Targeted actions would be taken against tax evasion based on advanced data analytics. As soon as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is overcome, deeper reforms will be undertaken to ensure that Tamil Nadu’s debt overhang is corrected without any delay,” Thiagarajan added.
Kalaignar Semmozhi award revived
The government will take steps to revive the Central Institute of Classical Tamil in Chennai. The ‘Kalaignar Karunanidhi Semmozhi Tamizh Award’, which has not been presented since 2010, will be given away alongside a cash support of Rs 10 lakh on June 3 every year. Thiagarajan said steps will be taken to make Tamil as the administrative language in all departments.
Rs 5 crore has been allocated to carry out archaeological excavations in the state. Keezhadi, Sivakalai and Kodumanal where excavations are carried out will be declared as protected zones.
Revamp of old pension scheme
The government will revamp the old pension scheme in the state and expand its coverage to all deserving beneficiaries. An enhanced budget of Rs 4,807.56 is provided for social security pensions.
Vacant police posts to be filled, overhaul of fire services
The Finance Minister said 14,317 vacant posts in the police department will be fulfilled and steps will be taken to provide special focus on swift and effective investigation of serious crimes, specifically crimes against women and children, cyber crimes and economic crimes. The existing Fire Services Act, 1985 will be thoroughly overhauled. Rs 8,930.20 crore was allocated to the Police department and Rs 405.13 crore has ben allocated to the Fire and Rescue Services Department. An Integrated Road Safety Mission will be revamped and the Commissioner of Transport will be re-designated as Commissioner of Transport and Road Safety
Public Distribution System
The government said all the 2.1 crore rice ration card holders in the state have been given a special Covid assistance package comprising cash worth Rs 4,000 released in two instalments in May and June, 2021 and a special grocery kit at the peak of the second wave of the Covid pandemic. “At a total cost of Rs 9,370.11 crore, this was the largest Covid-19 relief package undertaken by any state,” the minister added. A committee to be formed to identify and set up new PDS shops in required areas. The Minister said the intention of the government is to provide the assistance to homemakers and there is no need to change the name of the head of the household in ration cards.
1,000 check dams and barrages are planned to be constructed over the next 10 years.
The Government is planning to formulate schemes to restore the reservoir capacity for important dams including Mettur, Amaravathi, Vaigai and Pechiparai.
Further, the Government is set to launch a special scheme for standardisation of 50 system minor irrigation tanks every year starting from 2021-22. “The Extension, Renovation and Modernisation programme of the Grand Anaicut Canal System at a total cost of Rs.2,639.15 crore has been taken up with the assistance from the AIIB.
Kasimedu Fishing Harbour in Chennai to be upgraded at a total cost of Rs 150 crore in association with Chennai Port Trust. A total sum of Rs 433.97 crore has been allocated for construction of fishing harbours and fish landing centres in the Revised Budget Estimates for 2021-22 and Rs 143.46 crore has been allocated for improvement to fish landing facilities. The overall allocation for the welfare of the fishermen in Tamil Nadu in the Revised Budget Estimates for 2021-22 is Rs 1,149.79 crore.
Environment and Climate Change
Tamil Nadu Government will be launching the ‘Green Tamil Nadu Mission’ to increase the total area under the forest and tree cover in Tamil Nadu to 33 per cent of the land area of the State. As many as 10 beaches across the state to be upgraded over the next 5 years, with the active support of local bodies to achieve the prestigious Blue Flag Certification. India’s first Integrated Environment Monitoring Studio is also set to be established for forecasting air quality on a real time basis with an early warning system.
At least 55 litres per capita per day of good quality drinking water will be supplied to all the 79,395 habitations in the State. The Minister said the government will ensure that 8,03,924 houseless families in rural areas are provided a house in the next 5 years. Rs 3,548 crore has been provided for the rural housing scheme.
Also, Government is set to re-launch the Anna Marumalarchi Thittam with an outlay of Rs.1,200 crore and the Namakku Namae Thittam introduced by Kalaginar at Rs 100 crore .
Municipal Administration and Water Supply
27 cities with a population of above one lakh will be fully covered with underground sewerage systems.
An integrated bus stand cum commercial centre will be established in Tiruchirapalli with the financial assistance of TUFIDCO.
The Integrated Storm Water Drain Network project in the Kosasthalaiyar River Basin assisted by the Asian Development Bank will be implemented a provision of Rs 87 crore has been allocated in the budget.
What’s for Chennai?
‘Singara Chennai 2.0’ scheme to be launched with an emphasis on clean and green Chennai. Rs 500 crore has been provided for this scheme.
Chennai will become a city without wall posters. New flyovers and over bridges to be constructed at 3 places in the city – Ganesapuram subway, at the intersection of Konnur High Road – Strahans Road and at South Usman Road at an estimated cost of Rs 335 crore.
The government has promised to provide an Underground sewerage systems to all the added areas of Chennai city at a total cost of Rs 2,056 crore. The scheme to prevent outflow of sewage into waterways in Chennai will be vigorously implemented at a total cost of Rs 2,371 crore. A Feasibility Report would be prepared for transmitting Krishna water through pipelines from Andhra Pradesh to the reservoirs of Chennai.
The Chennai City Partnership Programme will be launched with assistance from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank soon.
Housing and Urban Development
The Minister said the Government is aiming to make the state entirely slum free within a period of 10 years. Rs 3,954.44 crore has been allocated for Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board in the Revised Budget.
Highways and Transport
Chief Minister’s Road Development Programme to be launched under which 2,200 KMs of State Highways that connect District Headquarters will be widened to 4 lane roads and 6,700 KMs of single and intermediate lane roads connecting taluk headquarters will be upgraded to double lane highways over the next 10 years. 59 Municipalities which currently do not have bye pass roads will be prioritized for the construction of bye pass roads. Rs 17,899.17 crore has been allocated for the Highways Department.
Chief Minister MK Stalin had announced that women, persons with disabilities and third gender persons will travel free on town white board buses in the State. In the budget, a sum of Rs 703 crore has been provided as subsidy for this purpose. Rs 750 crore has also been provided as diesel subsidy to insulate against diesel price increases. Further Rs 623.59 crore has also been provided under the KfW assistance programme for procurement of 1,000 new buses.
Services on the Kodambakkam to Poonamallee bye pass section of the Metro Rail Project to commence within June 2025 and the entire Metro Rail Project Phase II is estimated to be completed by December, 2026. The Minister said the extension of the metro rail project from Airport to Kilambakkam Bus Terminus via Tambaram will soon be completed. Also, a Detailed Feasibility Report for the Metro Rail in Madurai is set to be prepared.
Brushing aside the claim that Tamil Nadu is a power surplus state, the minister said almost 2,500 MW of power has had to be bought on the power exchanges to meet peak needs. The government said it will take measures to increase the power generation capacity in the state to 17,980 MW through own generating stations in the next 10 years. A total of Rs 19,872.77 crore has been allocated towards subsidies to free supply of agricultural power, domestic supply and for take over of losses of TANGEDCO.
State Education Policy and School Education
This Government to appoint a High Level Committee of educationists and experts to formulate a distinct State Education Policy for Tamil Nadu in keeping with the historical legacy, present situation and future aspirations of the State. According to the Minister, the School Education is accorded the highest importance in the budget with an overall allocation of Rs 32,599,54 crore.
The government said it is determined to bring the state within first three states in terms of learning outcomes in India. The Minister said all teachers will be able to receive technology enabled monitorable and evidence based training through the 40 tablets to be supplied to each of the 413 Blocks at a total cost of Rs 13.22 crore.
The “Ennum Ezhuthum Mission” to ensure foundational literacy and numeracy will be implemented to ensure that by 2025 all students in Tamil Nadu by age 8 are able to read with comprehension and possess basic arithmetic skills.
High tech laboratories, smart class rooms to be set up at Government High and Higher Secondary Schools.
“The immediate priority of this Government is to minimise the learning losses to students due to the pandemic. All teachers have been trained in the necessary Covid protocols and will be vaccinated so that schools can reopen and function at the earliest. A comprehensive plan for remedial education both within and outside the school hours and school premises will be launched to address learning losses,” the Minister added.
10 new Government Arts and Science Colleges to be set up. Thiagarajan said the decision to make Raja Muthiah Medical College as the Government Medical College for Cuddalore district and Annamalai University an affiliating university for Cuddalore, Villupuram, Kallakurichi and Mayiladuthurai districts will ease the financial crisis of Annamalai University. A total of Rs 5,369.09 crore has been provided in the budget for Higher Education.
Health and Family Welfare
The Minister said Intensifying the vaccination drive is the highest priority. He claimed that against a capacity to vaccinate 8 lakh persons a day, the government receives only 2.4 lakh vaccines on an average.
The minister noted that Stalin had conceptualised and launched the game changing ‘Makklai Thedi Maruthuvam’ scheme with a total outlay of Rs 257.16 crore.
The 108 Ambulance Services programme to be expanded to 1,303 vehicles and the quality of services further enhanced.
Government is also set to re-establish the Tamil Nadu Siddha University to ensure that Siddha occupies its due place alongside other indigenous systems of medicine.
Industries AND MSME
An International Furniture Park to be set up at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore on 1100 acres of land in Thoothukudi district, to attract investment of Rs 4,500 crore and enable employment of 3.5 lakh persons.
The Minister said Tamil Nadu has a huge potential in Fin Tech and a separate Fin Tech policy will be released shortly. A separate ‘FinTech Cell’ will be formed in guidance to facilitate the establishment of FinTech companies in Tamil Nadu. A Fintech city in Chennai will be developed in 2 phases at Nandambakkam and Kavanur. The first phase will be developed at Nandambakkam at an estimated cost of Rs 165 crore.
He added that the establishment of Tidel Park in Chennai in 2000 by Kalaignar fuelled the growth of the OMR IT corridor. And now, Tidel parks will now be established in Tier II and Tier III towns across Tamil Nadu, and in the first stage at Thoothukudi, Vellore, Tiruppur and at Thiruchitrambalam in Villupuram district.
The Minister alleged that although the Union Government announced establishment of Defence Industrial Corridors connecting Hosur, Salem, Tiruchirapalli and Coimbatore, the support of the Union Government has been limited. He said the State Government will take this project forward with the establishment of a defence component manufacturing park at Coimbatore at a cost of Rs 225 crore. This park is expected to attract investment of Rs 3,500 crore.
New SIPCOT parks is also set to be created in industrially backward districts such as Thiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Sivagangai, Villupuram, Namakkal, Theni and Nagapattinam.
The Minister said a committee chaired by Retd IAS officer Dr N Sundaravendan has been formed to study the financial, infrastructural and other issues faced by MSMEs in Tamil Nadu and suggest measures to enable them to thrive.
The Government will handhold MSMEs which want to raise equity capital from stock exchanges and the cost of listing, up to Rs.30 lakhs will be borne by the Government.
To ensure that MSMEs have faster channels for realization of their dues, all State Public Sector Undertakings, Statutory Boards, Municipal Corporations and apex co-operatives will be mandated to join the Trade Receivables and Discounting Platform (TReDs)
Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment
The Minister said as part of the measures by the government, Rs.626 crore have been retrieved and restored to the control of temples as on date. An additional corpus of Rs.130 crore will be created to provide for assistance to perform one time pooja (Oru Kaala Poojai) for 12,959 temples which do not have their own resources. The ancient healing wisdom of Siddhars will be promoted by establishing a Siddha Medical College by Arulmigu Baladhandayuthapani Swamy Temple, Palani.
The Marriage Assistance Schemes which were introduced during previous DMK regimes to be implemented with an allocation of Rs 762.23 crore.
As part of welfare measures for transgender persons, Rs 1.50 crore has been allocated for the transgender pension scheme, benefiting 1,071 destitute transgender persons.
A special provision of Rs.48.48 crore has been provided for upgradation of Anganwadi Centres for the year 2021-22 and Rs 23.33 crore has been allocated for provision of pre-school educational materials.
The overall provision for Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare is enhanced to Rs.4,142.33 crore. The Minister said to enhance opportunities for students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to pursue higher education, the scheme for scholarship to study abroad will be revamped. The scheme for scholarship for Ph.D courses will also be restructured and the scholarship enhanced to Rupees one lakh per annum to benefit more students.
Welfare of Differently Abled
The Government is set to introduce a direct subsidy payment mechanism for various types of rehabilitation devices and equipment to offer eligible persons a greater range of choice. Also, it will launch the ‘RIGHTS’ programme with the assistance from the World Bank to cover early detection and prevention of disabilities.
Youth Welfare and Sports Development
Mini stadiums at a cost of Rs 3 crore each will be established in all Assembly constituencies of the State where such sporting facilities are not currently available. A financing mechanism to maintain infrastructure of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu will be put in place.
Public Financial Management
The Government is planning to publish a ‘Citizen’s Budget’ along with the Budget from 2022-23 onwards in simple and non-technical language to encourage greater public understanding and informed debate on Government’s finances.
Welfare of Government Employees
As part of its poll promises, the DMK government will be enhancing the period of maternity leave from 9 months to 12 months for women Government employees with less than two surviving children with effect from 1/7/2021. The lumpsum grant from the Family Security Fund paid to the family of a Government employee who dies while in service will be enhanced from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.