Two metro rail projects in Coimbatore and Madurai, and a memorial for the martyrs of the anti-Hindi agitation of 1937-40 were among the proposals made in the Tamil Nadu Budget by Finance Minister Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan tabled in the Assembly on Monday, 20 March.
While presenting the Budget for the financial year 2023-24, Thiaga Rajan — popularly known as PTR — said that the government’s unprecedented and difficult reforms reduced the state’s annual revenue deficit of around ₹62,000 crore to around ₹.30,000 crore in the revised estimates for the current fiscal.
Even as PTR started presenting the Budget, Opposition AIADMK MLAs under Edappadi K Palaniswami raised slogans condemning the DMK for the alleged debasement of the Erode by-election, and the “deteriorating” law and order situation.
They staged a walkout from the Assembly. However, the deputy Opposition leader O Paneerselvam and his group of MLAs remained in the House throughout the Budget presentation.
‘We have outperformed the Centre’
The minister commenced his Budget speech by quoting a couplet from The Thirukural, saying that the government is bracing for challenging times caused by unprecedented inflation, the war in Ukraine, and the volatility in the global economy and markets.
“We have outperformed (the Centre) by growing faster than the national average in the previous year and by significantly lowering the revenue deficit and fiscal deficit when compared to that of the Union government,” PTR said.
Stating that the state’s tax revenues, which were at a healthy eight percent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) during 2006-11, witnessed a sharp fall over the past 10 years and touched 5.58 percent in 2020-21.
It was lower than other large states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka, the minister said
Action needed to raise welfare funds
“Though the tax-GSDP ratio has increased to 6.11 percent in the current year due to this government’s efforts in the past two years, concerted action is needed to raise it further to find financial resources for welfare schemes,” PTR announced.
Further, the state’s tax revenue is estimated to increase to ₹1,51,870.61 crore in the revised estimates, as compared to ₹1,42,799.93 crore in the Budget estimates for the financial year 2022-23.
In the coming year, it is estimated that the state’s own tax revenue will further increase to ₹1,81,182.22 crore, up 19.30 percent over the revised estimates.
‘States getting less from Centre’
The share of central taxes is estimated at ₹38,731.24 crore in revised estimates and at ₹41,664.86 crore in the Budget, in line with the projections in the Union Budget.
“While there is an increase, it continues to be far less than what should have been devolved to the states but for the indiscriminate levy of cesses and surcharges by the Union government,” PTR said.
Grants-in-aid from the Union government are estimated at ₹39,748.42 crore in the revised estimates (including the payment of GST Compensation arrears of ₹16,214.83 crore) and ₹27,444.64 crore in the Budget, which includes expected GST arrears of ₹4,572.82 crore in the coming year, the finance minister said.
PTR alleged that the BJP-led Union government, despite multiple representations from the states, has refused to extend the original GST compensation period (of guaranteed 14 percent year-over-year growth) beyond the five years that expired on 30 June, 2022.
The Centre’s refusal to extend the compensation period has deprived the states of a vital source of revenue.
The minister said that the total revenue expenditure is expected to be ₹3,08,055.68 crore in the coming year. He estimated a revenue deficit of ₹37,540.45 crore.
The Budget estimated the state’s total capital outlay, including net loans and advances, to be ₹54,534.46 crore.
Further, the total outstanding debt of the state is estimated to be ₹7,26,028.83 crore and the debt-GSDP ratio will be 25.63 percent, which is within the 29.1 percent for the 2023-24 limit set by the 15th Finance Commission.
- A memorial will be set up in Chennai for the Tamil martyrs Thalamuthu and Natarajan. The duo were killed during the anti-Hindi agitation of 1937-40.
- A grant of ₹5 crore will be provided to translate the works of Ambedkar into Tamil.
- Free bus pass for the elderly Tamil scholars will be extended to 591 more people.
- Government to expand the widely popular Chennai Sangamam cultural programme to eight major cities.
- To highlight the contribution of the Great Cholas, and to preserve artifacts and relics of that age, a ‘Grand Chola Museum’ will be set up in Thanjavur.
- PTR earmarked ₹223 crore to construct 3,959 houses for the Sri Lankan Tamils, now living in various rehabilitation camps in the state.
- The Budget doubled the ex gratia offered the next of kin of armed forces personnel hailing from Tamil Nadu, who are killed in war/ war-like operations, to ₹40 lakh from ₹20 lakh.
- The Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam scheme will be expanded to 711 factories covering 8.35 lakh workers in the first phase.
- A 1,000-bed Kalaignar Memorial Multi Super Specialty Hospital on the premises of King Institute of Preventive Medicine and Research Centre, Guindy, will be inaugurated this year.
- ₹1.500 crore allotted to construct new classrooms, laboratories and toilets under the Perasiriyar Anbazhagan School Development Scheme.
- An International book fair will be held next year.
- Schools functioning under various departments like Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare, Backward Class, Most Backward Class & Denotified Communities, Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments and Forest will be brought under the School Education Department
- ₹2,877 crore allotted to transform 71 government ITIs into Centres of Excellence.
- Government to upgrade 54 state-run polytechnics to Centres of Excellence. The Budget set aside ₹2,783 crore for this purpose
- ₹25 crore allocated for ‘Factory Skill Schools’ programme.
- 1,000 civil services aspirants will be shortlisted and provided ₹7,500 per month for 10 months to prepare for the preliminary examination. Those clearing the preliminary examination will be provided a lumpsum amount of ₹25,000.
- The Chennai Metropolitan Development Agency will set up a state-of-the-art Global Sports City in Chennai.
- As many as 39 one-stop social care service centres will be established to provide services including disability assessment, certification and early intervention.
- ₹252 crore has been allocated to provide pre-matric and post-matric scholarships.
- ₹305 crore has been earmarked for distributing bicycles among students.
- The Chief Minister’s Breakfast Scheme will be expanded to cover all the 30,122 government primary schools in the state from the coming academic year. ₹500 crore has been allotted for this scheme, which will benefit 18 lakh students studying from Class I to Class V.
- Government to establish an exclusive Start-up Mission for women.
- As many as 217 units of artificial reefs will be established at a cost of ₹79 crore in the three Palk Bay districts and 200 units will be set up at a cost of ₹64 crore in other districts.
- A new wildlife sanctuary, Thanthai Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, covering 80,567 hectares of forests in Erode’s Anthiyur and Gobichettipalayam taluks will be set up, linking the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve with Cauvery South Wildlife Sanctuary.
- ‘International Bird Centre’ at Marakkanam at an estimated cost of ₹25 crore.
- In the upcoming financial year, works for 5,145 km of roads will be undertaken at an estimated cost of ₹2,000 crore.
- As many as 10,000 waterbodies in rural areas consisting of minor irrigation tanks, ponds and ooranies (traditional waterbodies for harvesting rainwater) will be renovated in the next two years at a cost of ₹800 crore.
- The government will procure 1,000 new buses and renovate 500 old buses at a cost of ₹500 crore.
- Metro rail projects in Coimbatore and Madurai
- A new textile park will be established in Salem
- Government will establish 10 mini Handloom Parks. ₹20 crore has been set aside for this purpose.
- Free Wi-Fi zones in popular public places in Chennai, Tambaram, Avadi, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Salem.
- IT Parks, each with an approximate built-up area of one lakh sq.ft, will be set up at Erode, Tirunelveli and Chengalpattu.
- The annual grant for repair and renovation of mosques and dargahs has been increased from ₹6 crore to ₹10 crore in the current year.
- ₹2 crore has been sanctioned towards renovation of the famous Nagore Dargah.
- Similarly, the grant provided for repair and renovation of churches will be increased from ₹6 crore to ₹10 crore.
- Consecration ceremony will be conducted in 400 temples.
Allocations to various departments
- School Education Department: ₹40,299 crore
- Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department: ₹22,562 crore
- Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department: ₹24,476 crore
- Highways and Minor Ports Department: ₹19,465 crore
- Health and Family Welfare Department: ₹18,661 crore
- Co-operation, Food and Consumer Protection Department: ₹16,262 crore
- Electricity Department: ₹14,063 crore
- Housing and Urban Development Department: ₹13,969 crore
- Food subsidy in the Public Distribution System: ₹10,500 crore
- Transport Department: ₹8,056 crore
- Higher Education Department: ₹6,967 crore
- Social security pensions: ₹5,346 crore
- Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department: ₹3,513 crore
- Industries Department: ₹3,268 crore
- Backward Class, Most Backward Class, De-notified Communities and Minorities Department: ₹1,580 crore
- Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Department: ₹1,509 crore.