The Tamil Nadu State Budget was critically reviewed in a seminar organised by the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS). Director Shashanka Bhide called it pragmatic and moderate on fiscal deficit. But various other speakers, criticised it for not living up to the expectations and especially not implementing measures already proposed. However, “not mentioning certain reforms doesn’t mean that the government is not working on these,” countered Principal Secretary S Krishnan.
Dr R Srinivasan, Associate Professor, Department of Econometrics, University of Madras said: “The government has not come up with new policy statements or plans and it acts like a care-taker government.” According to Dr Srinivasan, the state is not good in collecting tax as well as non-tax revenues. The state has allowed public sector enterprises to borrow on behalf of the government and the same was not accounted. For example, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has borrowed more on behalf of the state government, but not recorded it in the CAG report, he said.
“Looking at the budget on environmental and agricultural point of view, the state’s budget is friendlier,” remarked Dr L Venkatachalam, Associate Professor, MIDS.
The state has allocated around Rs 200 crore for rural solid waste management and the model clean village scheme. A sum of Rs 1803.30 crore was allotted for drinking water projects. Anyhow, there is no mention of pollution control measures taken by the government in the budget, pointed Dr Venkatachalam.
“The present Tamil Nadu budget is not addressing the needs of women. Giving freebies is not a solution to empower them,” said Dr S Anandhi, Associate Professor, MIDS.
Answering criticism, S. Krishnan and K Shanmugam, Principal Secretary said: “With a end-to-end computerisation of the PDS system under way, targeting subsidies will become facile. Freebies have helped a lot to eradicate poverty.”