Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Chambers of commerce in Tamil Nadu, government employees, pensioners, retired officials and teachers have welcomed the tax-free State budget for 2008-2009.

A. Sakthivel, vice-president and southern regional chairman of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said the measures announced for agriculture, fisheries, industry and ITES and subsidies for small and medium enterprises would give a fillip to the development of the State. He requested Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to exempt exports from Value Added Tax.

The Confederation of Indian Industry described the budget as progressive and growth-oriented. Announcement on setting up of new SEZs in backward disrtricts, development of tier II towns, increased allocation for agriculture, health, education, transport and power sectors was a move in the right direction, said Gopal Srinivasan, chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Council.

M. Balasubramanian, president of the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the budget would spur economic growth.

M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Tamil Nadu State Council chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the support given to agriculture would speed up the growth of trade and industry.

Steps for all sections

S. Vijaykumar Bafna, president of the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce, termed the budget vibrant and prospective, proposing steps to meet the needs of all sections.

Shanmugavelayuthan, president of the Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association, requested the government to consider waiver of interest on the loans obtained by small and micro industries from TIIC and TAICO.

S. Mohammed Hassan, secretary of the All-India Skin and Hide Tanners and Merchants Association, said the proposal to open a leather special economic zone at Ranipet would help to increase production to achieve the target of $7 billion worth of exports and to generate employment in rural areas.

Issues left out

K. Balakrishnan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Vivasaigal Sangam, said the budget did not make any mention of the organisation’s demand for increasing the procurement price of sugarcane to Rs.1,500 a tonne. The budget also failed to waive lease arrears and private loans taken by more than 10 lakh farmers.

The Tamil Nadu Primary School Teachers’ Federation said the budget did not address its demands.

K. Balasubramanian, president of the Tamil Nadu Government Employees’ Union, has requested the Government to introduce a pension plan for noon-meal and anganwadi workers and announce a social security scheme for those who were not permanent government employees.

M. Palaninathan, president of the Tamil Nadu Noon Meal Workers’ Association, said additional funds should be provided for the noon-meal programme and the wages of anganwadi workers attached to noon-meal centres enhanced.

G. Suriyamurthy, president of the Tamil Nadu Government Officials’ Union, said the budget would put the State on the path of growth.

The Tamil Nadu Retired Government Employees’ Association requested that reimbursement of medical expenditure be extended to the spouse. The Tamil Nadu Arasu Anaithu Paniyalar Kazhagam, the Tamil Nadu Government Pensioner’s Union, the Tamil Nadu Asiriyar Kootani, the Retired Officials’ Association, the National Chamber of Commerce and the Tamil Chamber of Commerce welcomed the State budget.