AIADMK govt bets again on flagship welfare schemes presents

populist budget
    Chennai, Feb 14 (PTI) The AIADMK government in Tamil
Nadu on Friday presented a populist budget, the last full-
fledged exercise in its present regime ahead of the Assembly
elections next year with a Rs 59,346 crore fiscal deficit and
is set to borrow Rs 59,209 crore.
    The outstanding debt will be Rs 4,56,660.99 crore
constituting 21.83 per cent of GSDP in 2020-21.
    The Chief Minister K Palaniswami-led government, which
has been implementing a slew of welfare schemes announced a
Special Purpose Vehicle to finance and manage the popular
state-run, low cost food chain 'Amma Unavagam' and made a
provision of Rs 100 crore for the purpose.
    The government which provides free rice for ration
card holders provided Rs 6,500 crore for food subsidy.
    Supply of toor dal and edible oil at subsidised rates
will be continued in 2020-21 as well.
    While agriculture saw an allocation of Rs 11,894.48
crore, fisheries got Rs 1,229.85 crore. As many as 7.41 lakh
acres will be covered under micro irrigation with an enhanced
outlay of Rs 1,844.97 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 of loans.
    Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who holds the
finance portfolio presented the budget and this is the 10th
time he is tabling the annual financial statement.
    His budget address stretched to about three hours and
15 minutes and is seen as among the lengthiest in Tamil Nadu.
    The budget speech was peppered with references to late
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's name and her initiatives and
Leader of Opposition M K Stalin sat through the address.
    "Despite the many fiscal constraints, Tamil Nadu
remains steadfast in adhering to fiscal discipline and has
maintained key fiscal ratios including the fiscal deficit and
the debt to GSDP ratio within the prescribed norms," he said.
    On flagship welfare initiatives like free distribution
of milch cows, goats and sheep, the Minister said in 2018-19
the livestock sector accounted for 5.83 per cent of the State
Gross Value Added and the fisheries sector for a further 0.47
per cent.
    In 2016-17, the livestock sector surpassed the share
of the agriculture sector in Gross State Value Added at
constant prices and has maintained the position in 2017-18 and
    "This reflects the success of the flagship initiatives
launched by late Chief Minister Puratchi Thalaivi J
Jayalalithaa for the free distribution of milch animals... and
the fodder development programme.
    This also demonstrates that growing incomes are
causing changes in food preferences to protein rich foods like
milk, milk products eggs and meat."
    The government allocated Rs 4,315.21 crore for social
security pension covering 1.73 lakh new beneficiaries and Rs
250 crore for accident-cum-life insurance scheme for Below
Poverty Line families.
    To finance the fiscal deficit, the government plans to
raise Rs 59,209.30 crore as net debt against the overall
permissible borrowing limit of Rs 62,757.80 crore,
Panneerselvam said in his budget address.
    While revenue deficit stood at Rs 21,617.64 crore, the
revenue expenditure has been projected at Rs 2,40,992.78
    Significantly, the government set apart Rs 4,265.56
crore to help State-run electricity generation and
distribution behemoth TANGEDCO overcome losses and allocated
Rs 20,115.58 crore for the energy sector.
    "The government is committed to funding 50 per cent of
the losses incurred by TANGEDCO in the previous year and in
the budget estimates 2020-21, Rs 4,265.56 crore has been
provided for this purpose," the Minister said.
    Noting that Tamil Nadu has "withstood fierce economic
headwinds" seen at the global and national level, he said in
2019-20 growth is projected to be 7.27 per cent, higher than
the projected all India growth rate of 5 per cent.
    "We expect an even stronger growth performance in
    The State's economy grew at 8.17 per cent in 2018-19
and at the national level, the growth estimates for 2019-20
were revised downwards at 5 per cent. PTI VGN

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)