Presenting a revenue-surplus budget for the third time in a row, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government on Thursday reiterated its emphasis on the primary sector, infrastructure development and allocation for social sector, even while adhering to fiscal prudence in its budget for 2013-14.
Despite the State feeling the pinch of the economic slowdown, severe drought and power shortage, the government announced new initiatives in agriculture; Rs. 2,000 crore for Infrastructure Development Fund; packages for micro, small and medium enterprises as well as promotion of industrial growth in southern districts and stepped up expenditure in the social sector.
“In spite of pressures for vital expenditure and serious resource constraints,” Chief Minister Jayalalithaa decided that “no new tax will be imposed nor will any existing rate be hiked,” Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam said, amid thumping of desks by members of the ruling party.
Of the overall allocation of about Rs. 17,221 crore for the primary sector, the share of agriculture had been increased to Rs. 5,189 crore. In continuance with the present regime’s policy of according greater importance to animal husbandry, the allocation had been hiked to about Rs. 1,083 crore, 240 per cent higher than what the sector got three years ago.
The crop loan target under the cooperative sector would go up to Rs. 4, 500 crore, Rs. 500 crore more from the previous year.
Making it clear that the government would continue to implement the universal public distribution system irrespective of the fate of the National Food Security Bill, the State government maintained its provision of Rs. 4,900 crore for food subsidy. The Special PDS, through which pulses and edible oil were being sold at concessional rates, would be extended up to March 31, 2014. The Price Stabilisation Fund, meant for procuring and distributing essential commodities at cost price, would have Rs. 100 crore hereafter.
Apart from earmarking Rs. 2,000 crore for the Infrastructure Development Fund and Rs. 200 crore for the Project Preparation Fund, the Finance Minister informed the Assembly of the World Bank’s nod for the second phase of the Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project, estimated to cost Rs. 8,580 crore. On the lines of the National Highways Authority of India, a State Highways Authority would be formed to take up projects on major State Highways.
Four units of thermal power projects would be commissioned between May 2013 and March 2014, even as three other units had commenced trial production. The new projects would produce 3,230 megawatt (MW). Government buildings would have solar installations at a cost of Rs. 11.7 crore. On solid waste management, the government made it clear that villages adjoining urban areas could be part of SWM projects implemented in the urban areas.
A special SWM Fund would be created with Rs. 100 crore for financing projects in weak urban local bodies.