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News18 » India
3-min read

Food Subsidy & Interest Waiver: AIADMK Sticks to Welfare Schemes in Populist Budget Ahead of 2021 TN Polls

Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, who holds the finance portfolio, in his over three-hour long budget address, peppered his speech with references to Jayalalithaa and her welfare initiatives.

PTI

Updated:February 14, 2020, 7:57 PM IST
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Food Subsidy & Interest Waiver: AIADMK Sticks to Welfare Schemes in Populist Budget Ahead of 2021 TN Polls
AIADMK symbol. Image for representation only. (Reuters)

Chennai: Presenting its last full-fledged budget ahead of 2021 assembly polls, the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu on Friday made generous allocations to its flagship welfare schemes, including Rs 6,500 crore for food subsidy, and announced interest waiver for prompt repayment of crop loans.

Seeking to give a fresh impetus to the low-cost "Amma canteens", it announced mobile units would be launched to take food to the work sites of construction labourers and a Special Purpose Vehicle to finance and manage the string of eateries, launched by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2013.

Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, who holds the finance portfolio, in his over three-hour long budget address, peppered his speech with references to Jayalalithaa and her welfare initiatives.

He announced addition of 1.73 lakh new beneficiaries under social security pension, allocating Rs 4,315 crore for the schemes. He also substantially enhanced compensation under an accident-cum-life insurance scheme named after Jayalalithaa for the below poverty line families.

A Rs 500 crore one-time special scheme for giving a boost to essential infrastructure works in urban and rural areas are also among the other highlights of the budget for 2020-21.

It showed a fiscal deficit of Rs 59,346 crore and pegged the growth rate of the economy at 7.2 per cent, as against 8.17 per cent in 2018-19, but it will still be higher than the projected national GDP rate of five per cent.

The budget proposed to borrow Rs 59,209.30 crore in 2020-21 against the overall permissible limit of Rs 62,757.80 crore. The outstanding debt will be Rs 4,56,660.99 crore constituting 21.83 per cent of GSDP in 2020-21.

Leader of the Opposition in the assembly M K Stalin of DMK said the budget was "woefully inadequate" to cater to any segment, 'lacking' both vision and schemes to spur growth.

He also took a dig at Panneerselvam for making the lengthy budget speech and sought to draw a parallel to the marathon address by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this month, saying this showed the AIADMK government was following the footsteps of BJP, an oft-repeated charge by the opposition party.

The government which provides free rice for ration card holders set apart Rs 6,500 crore for food subsidy. While agriculture saw an allocation of Rs 11,894.48 crore, fisheries sector got Rs ,229.85 crore.

A total crop loan of Rs 11,000 crore will be disbursed by cooperative institutions and a provision of Rs 200 crore has been made to provide full interest waiver for prompt repayment, Panneerselvam, who presented his 10th budget, said.

Amid complaints of neglect of the "Amma canteens", the Chief Minister K Palaniswami-led government said the proposed not-for-profit SPV would tap corporate social responsibility funds of companies and also mobilise donations.

Panneerselvam, who announced Rs 100 crore allocation for the SPV, said the government would continue to provide subsidised foodgrains for the scheme.

Noting that Tamil Nadu has "withstood fierce economic headwinds" seen at the global and national level, he said in 2019-20 growth was forecast to be 7.27 per cent, higher than the projected all India growth rate of 5 per cent.

The fiscal deficit to GSDP ratio is pegged at 2.84 per cent, well below the 3 per cent fiscal norm. While revenue deficit stood at Rs 21,617.64 crore, the revenue expenditure has been projected at Rs 2,40,992.78 crore. The government expected the revenue deficit to slide to Rs 16,893.19 crore in 2021-22.

While revenue receipts including Central transfers are Rs 2,19,375.14 crore, State's Own Tax Revenue is estimated to climb to Rs 1,33,530.30 crore from the Revised Estimates (2019-20) of Rs 1,20,809.63 crore.

On capital expenditure, Panneerselvam said Rs 36,367.78 crore has been provisioned and "...this shows the commitment to improve allocation for growth oriented expenditure while maintaining fiscal discipline."

Significantly, the government set apart Rs 4,265.56 crore to help state-run electricity generation and distribution behemoth TANGEDCO to overcome losses and allocated Rs 20,115.58 crore for the energy sector.

On the industry front, Panneerselvam noted the state remained one of the most attractive investment destinations in the country and said a record largest single investment of Rs 49,000 crore would be made by Kuwait-based Al Qebla Al Watya group in the petroleum sector in Tuticorin in southern Tamil Nadu.

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