The Union Budget does not have much to offer to Tamil Nadu.
Except for the announcement on the establishment of an integrated vaccine unit near Chennai, there is virtually nothing in the Budget for the State, a perusal of the Budget speech document reveals. Be it in the area of industry or rural development or higher education or social security, there is no measure that will be of direct benefit to the State.
Unlike the policy announcement made in February 2007 during the Budget speech on the extension of the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) during the 11 Plan period, this year's Budget is silent on the scheme's continuance as its tenure is expiring on March 31. Using the scheme, several textile mills had put up wind mills in the State about 10 years ago, apart from making use of funds for their modernisation.
The previous year's Budget provided for the approval of special grants to two institutions of higher studies in the State. This time, while other southern States have been accommodated, Tamil Nadu has been left out. Apparently, there is no norm that the State that had been covered in the previous year's Budget should not be included in the next. Last year, two institutions in Kerala were chosen under the scheme. This year too, Kerala has got funds (Rs. 100 crore) for the Kerala Agricultural University. Five years ago, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, was provided Rs. 50 crore.
As noted by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in her response, the enhanced allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) will not be of use to the State. The scheme's norm permits only the inclusion of habitations with population of at least 500, but all such habitations in the State have already been covered. Tamil Nadu seeks funds for taking up projects for habitations of less than 500 population.
As regards social net, the monthly pension per beneficiary has been raised from Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 for the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGN-WPS) and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGN-DPS).
The number of beneficiaries involved in the two schemes is less than that of the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGN-OAPS). In Tamil Nadu, (as in June 2011) there were about 10 lakh beneficiaries under the IGNOAPS, whereas the figures of beneficiaries under the IGN-WPS and IGN-DPS were 3,68,331 and 34,640. The State government provides Rs. 1,000 to beneficiaries under a host of schemes, including those covered under the Central schemes.
Another move that has irked a section of the industry in the State is the levy of excise duty of one per cent on unbranded jewellery, as Coimbatore is a major centre of unbranded gold jewellery making.
However, not everything is adverse to the State. Full exemption of plant and equipment from special countervailing duty for the establishment of solar thermal projects can be of use to investors, in the wake of greater interest in solar energy. Besides, the State enjoys the reputation of being one of the front-ranking States in the promotion of renewable energy.
In the area of agricultural credit, the increase in the allocation by Rs. one lakh crore for the entire country will certainly benefit the farm community in the State, according to a Central government agency's official. Tamil Nadu invariably achieves higher than the target of farm credit.
In 2010-2011, against the target of around Rs. 25,760 crore, the achievement was about Rs. 32,925 crore.
The figures of target for the current year and 2012-2013 are about Rs. 40,550 crore and Rs. 48,585 crore. Given that the State has been having comfortable in the water front, the targets are likely to be exceeded.
Even this year, the State made use of about Rs. 260 crore under the special scheme for warehousing facilities out of Rs. 2,000 crore. Similarly, under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, the State has been getting around Rs. 1,100 crore. Higher allocations under such schemes will come handy to the State, the official points out.
Keywords: Union Budget 2012