Paneerselvam asks Centre to appreciate grassroots realities

The State Government has expressed reservations about the direct cash transfer initiative of the Centre for schemes with wider socio-economic objectives.

At a pre-Budget meeting chaired by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi on Thursday, State Finance Minister O. Paneerselvam said that the State Government appreciated the direct cash transfer in existing schemes involving cash disbursement such as old age pension and student scholarships that could be streamlined to minimise linkages.

As mere cash distribution for schemes with wider socio-economic objectives such as the public distribution system would effectively amount to escaping from public responsibility, he asked the Centre to think beyond administrative convenience and appreciate the realities of entitlements and access at the grassroots level.

He also underlined the need for forming a flexible infrastructure development mission with adequate funding for JNNURM II in the Budget as the Centre was yet to show any sign of the JNNURM’s second phase despite the 12th plan document liberally speaking about it. Unsure of the Centre’s initiatives, the State had gone ahead with its own mission mode programmes such as integrated urban development mission and Chennai mega city development mission, he said, seeking clarity on the time and extent of funding for urban infrastructure projects.

Mr. Paneerselvam again requested the Centre to compensate for the permanent loss on account of abolition of Central Sales Tax in the ensuing Budget.

He asked Centre to consider radical approaches, including delegating levy and collection of the substitutes for VAT and Central Excise Duty within the State completely to the State machinery with the Central tax administration focussing on inter-state taxation, customs duties and direct taxes.

The (Tamil Nadu) Government sought a grant of at least Rs. 100 crore for its scheme to introduce private sector participation in the management of State-run Industrial Training Institutes to cater for the human resources demand (in related sectors like manufacturing and automotive). He demanded that the Centre expedite the launch of its urban poverty reduction scheme and dovetail funds for the State’s own scheme to deal with urban poverty.