Special Correspondent

Says first priority of Government is to improve the condition of farmers

He says Budget aims at helping the peopleBaby tables records of communication sent to the CommissionBalan says KSEB cannot continue with the 20 p.c. subsidy on power tariffs

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said in the Assembly on Wednesday that the Government would not effect any cut in allocations for the MLA local development fund.

The Chief Minister was winding up the three-day general discussion on the revised Budget for the current year.

Mr. Achuthanandan said that the first priority of the Government was the improvement of condition of farmers and traditional workers. The Budget was aimed at helping the people. Issues raised by him while in the Opposition were now getting priority.

Referring to Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy's challenge to collect the tax due from lottery dealers, Mr. Achuthanandan said that he would take steps to collect it to the maximum extent. This was received with applause from the Opposition, which had pointed out that Mr. Achuthanandan had stated that Rs.5,000 crores was due from the dealers.

The Chief Minister said that the Budget proposed schemes drawn up by experts such as economist Prabhat Patnaik.

Education Minister M.A. Baby told the House that he was ordering a high-level inquiry into serious lapses on the part of officials in reaching communication from the Government to the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions on granting of minority status to the professional colleges in the State.

He also tabled records relating the communication sent to the Commission.

Giving his ruling on the contention of the Opposition that the Minister had misled the House by giving different versions in the matter during the past three days, Assembly Speaker K. Radhakrishnan said that Minister had not deliberately misled the House.

Power tariff

Electricity Minister A.K. Balan said that the State Electricity Board would not be able to continue the 20 per cent subsidy on power tariffs announced by the previous Government.

Mr. Balan told the Assembly that the Power Department had communicated the Government's willingness to meet the shortfall in the Board's revenues to the Commission without approval of the Cabinet or the Finance Department.

The Department had warned the Power Department about its action during the UDF rule itself. In view of this, the Board would have legal and technical problems in continuing the subsidy.