O Panneerselvam presents populist TN budget

Tamil Nadu: Finance Minister O Panneerselvam presents populist budget

The AIADMK government will complete its term in May 2021 and this is its last full-fledged budget

Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam presents the state budget for 2020-21 at Assembly in Chennai, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Going populist in its last full-fledged budget before the state goes to assembly elections next year, the AIADMK government on Friday laid emphasis on welfare schemes targeting all sections of society by allotting more funds to them. The allocation came even as the fiscal deficit stood at Rs 59,346 crore and the overall debt of the state increasing to Rs 4.56 lakh crore.

Acknowledging that the country is facing economic slowdown, State Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, while presenting the budget for 2020-21 fiscal, said that Tamil Nadu will grow at 7.27 per cent despite all challenges which is more than 2 per cent higher than the 5 per cent growth rate projected for the country.   

The AIADMK government will complete its term in May 2021 and this is its last full-fledged budget. In February 2021, the government will present vote on account leaving the exercise of presenting the budget to the newly elected dispensation.

From food security to agriculture to infrastructure to women safety – the government increased funding for existing programmes across all sectors and announced new schemes. In a boost to the low-cost Amma Canteens, established by late J Jayalalithaa in 2013, Panneerselvam announced creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle by allotting Rs 100 crore to fund the programmee.

The low-cost canteens, that sell idli at Rupee 1, has been replicated by several states, including Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Panneerselvam also allotted Rs 6,500 crore as food subsidy for providing free rice for ration card holders, while making it clear that toor dal and edible oil will continue to be sold at subsidised rates.

"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," Panneerselvam, whose speech lasted for 3.15 hours, said.

The budget allotted Rs 12.21 crore for establishing a museum at Keezhadi, where archaeologists unearthed Sangam-era urban civilisation, even as the allocation for the archaeology department went up to Rs 32 crore.