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Benefits to large sections in tax-free Tamil Nadu budget

By R.K. Radhakrishnan

CHENNAI, MARCH 2. A slew of measures intended to benefit a large section, ranging from noon-meal and construction workers to government servants and teachers, was announced in the Tamil Nadu budget proposals here today.

Placing the proposals before the Assembly, the Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, said government employees and teachers would get one more instalment of dearness allowance at three per cent of pay with effect from April 1, 2005. "This will apply to the teaching and non-teaching staff working in aided educational institutions, employees under local bodies, noon meal organisers, child welfare organisers, anganwadi workers and others. This will be extended to pensioners. This will benefit 12.33 lakh Government employees, teachers and others as also 4.8 lakh pensioners." The move will cost the Government Rs. 211.83 crores.

Arrears for pensioners

The entire balance of 40 per cent arrears of gratuity, commutation and other benefits due to pensioners who retired between January 1, 1996 and March 31, 1998 will be paid in one instalment in 2005-06, commencing from July 2005. This will involve a payout of Rs. 583.51 crores.

The consolidated honorarium for anganwadi helpers grade-1 and cooks will be revised and their total emoluments, including dearness allowance, will be about Rs. 1,100 a month. There will be a proportional increase in pay for anganwadi helpers grade-2. These steps will cost the Government Rs. 47.97 crores.

The Government also announced retirement benefits for noon meal workers. It will give Rs. 50,000 at the time of retirement to noon meal workers on non-standard time scales of pay and Rs. 20,000 to those on consolidated pay. Also, the government contribution under the special provident fund-cum-gratuity scheme will be increased from Rs. 5,000 to 10,000 (at retirement) for them.

MLA fund increased

The police will have a record outlay of Rs. 1,339.33 crores. The funds available to each MLA for developmental works in his/her constituency has been increased from Rs. 82 lakhs to 1 crore.

Initiatives to spur the textile industry in the post-quota regime, adoption of e-governance for process re-engineering and better service delivery in 10 departments with a high public interface, widening of the social safety net to provide food, clothing and shelter and new poverty reduction programmes for the "ultra poor" are among the proposals in the "pro-poor, growth oriented" budget.

For farmers

Mr. Ponnaiyan also announced a 50 per cent subsidy for small and marginal farmers taking up sprinkler irrigation systems; the existing 25 per cent subsidy pattern will continue for large farmers. This was initially tried out in the water-starved Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts. With the success of the pilot project, it is being expanded to other districts at a cost of Rs. 10 crores.

Eleven farmers' training centres will be added this year to the existing 12. The block level extension centre will be revived so that the farmer will have access to information and facilities.

The tax-free budget expects revenue receipts (revised estimates) to go up to Rs. 27,049.4 crores. The capital expenditure has been fixed at a record Rs. 4,791.64 crores.

Mr. Ponnaiyan and the Finance Secretary, N. Narayanan, said the targets set out in the medium-term fiscal plan would be achieved during the financial year.

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