Panneerselvam’s budget woos TN farmers, marginalised

Chennai: With elections around the corner, Tamil Nadu on Friday announced schemes like accident insurance for poor, expanding crop insurance, food processing park, housing for people affected by cyclone Gaja in the tax-free budget for 2019-20 presented in the Assembly.

Presenting the budget, Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said the revenue deficit was expected to be Rs 14,314.76 crore and the fiscal deficit is estimated to be Rs 44,176.36 crore.

In his about two-and-half hours speech, Panneerselvam said the state has been one of the best performers in implementing Goods and Services Tax (GST) and has achieved good growth in GST revenues.

“However, the state is yet to receive its due share of IGST (Integrated GST) to the tune of Rs 5,454 crore, as well as the assured GST compensation of Rs 455.16 crore for the year 2017-2018.

“The delay in release of these dues by the Centre is impinging on the state’s finances,” he said.

In his budget proposals, Panneerselvam said during 2019-20, more crops will be notified for coverage under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and expand the coverage under the scheme.

Cloud burst and natural fire will also be included under localised calamities in addition to hail storm, landslide, inundation and others. An allocation of Rs 621.59 crore has been provided in the budget.

He said the government has decided to cover two lakh hectares more under Micro Irrigation during 2019-2020 with an outlay of Rs 1,361 crore.

Panneerselvam said it is proposed to provide 2,000 solar-powered pumps upto a capacity of 10 HP to farmers with a subsidy assistance of Rs 84.09 crore.

The government will also launch an accident-cum-life insurance scheme covering all Below Poverty Line (BPL) families with a sum insured of Rs 200,000 (natural death) and Rs 400,000 in case of accidental death and Rs 100,000 for permanent disability.

“A sum of Rs 250 crore has been provided for payment of premium under this scheme,” he said.

He said a French company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to invest Rs 2,000 crore to set up an integrated food processing park near here.

According to him, crop loans to the extent of Rs 10,000 crore will be disbursed next fiscal and Rs 200 crore has been provided in the budget for interest waiver on crop loans.

For the state capital Chennai, he said a Comprehensive Integrated Parking Management Project will be implemented by creating underground/multi-level/on-lane smart parking facilities under public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

He said the parking lot would accommodate two lakh four- and two-wheelers each at an outlay of Rs 2,000 crore.

On management of solid waste generated here, Panneerselvam said administrative sanction has already been accorded for collection and transportation of solid waste in eight zones in two packages for a total cost of Rs 1,546.04 crore.

Remediation and reclamation of existing landfills for Kodungaiyur and Perungudi under PPP mode along with the setting up of waste-to-energy plants is under consideration of the government at a total cost of Rs 5,259.10 crore. The government will accord sanction for this project shortly.

Panneerselvam said the government would build one lakh concrete houses replacing thatched houses in districts affected by cyclone Gaja at an outlay of Rs 1,700 crore.

He said Tamil Nadu Housing and Habitat Development for Urban Poor programme, with World Bank assistance, will be launched to construct 38,000 tenements at a cost of Rs 4,647.50 crore in Chennai and surrounding areas for poor families living at river margins by adopting best resettlement practices.

The E. Palaniswami government will soon launch the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Reforms Programme with World Bank funding support at a total cost of Rs 2,685.91 crore, to improve the access of the poor and disadvantaged to government health facilities.

Panneerselvam said, the government plans to borrow a net amount of Rs 43,000 crore in 2019-2020. The outstanding debt including provident fund will be Rs 3,97,495.96 crore constituting only 23.02 per cent of gross state domestic product in 2019-2020.