Speaker R. Selvam has adjourned the Assembly sine die as the date for presenting the annual budget could not be fixed due to delay in approval from the Centre for the Union Territory’s outlay of ₹11,000 crore, fixed by the Puducherry Planning Board.
Immediately after Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan left the House, after delivering her address, Mr. Selvam allowed the government to move the motion of thanks to her address, and adjourned the House. Anticipating early clearance from the Centre for presenting the annual budget, the government issued a notification in July, convening the Assembly session on Wednesday. The initial plan was to convene the Business Advisory Committee, after the Lieutenant Governor’s address, to decide the date for budget presentation, and to list other businesses of the House.
“Since, there is no clarity on the approval from the Centre even after the Chief Minister’s meeting with Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the government felt it was appropriate to adjourn the House. We have to pass the budget before end of month, so we have two to three weeks left. We are, however, expecting the approval for the budget in a couple of days,” said a ruling party member.
The Planning Board of the Union Territory had met on July 6 under the Chairmanship of the Lieutenant Governor to fix the draft outlay for the fiscal 2022-23 at ₹11,000 crore. The outlay, according to sources, was sent to the Union Government for its approval, a few days after the meet. The delay in clearance, sources said, prompted Chief Minister N. Rangasamy to make a sudden visit to New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister. His visit on August 8 assumed importance as only two days before, he expressed his inability to attend the NITI Aayog meeting on August 7, citing health reasons. The visit also comes almost a year after his party came to power in the Union Territory after aligning with the BJP in the 2021 Assembly polls. According to highly placed sources, the Centre had asked for a few clarifications after the outlay was presented to Union Ministry of Home Affairs for its approval.
“The budget clearance has got nothing to do with the Chief Minister’s delayed meeting with the Prime Minister. The Centre has to follow the rules in according sanction,” said a BJP member. The Centre’s view, he said, was that the Puducherry government had enough time to present a full budget after Central allocation was made in the Union Budget.
“The Central allocation was budgeted under the Home Ministry head in the Union Budget. The Union Territory could have prepared a full budget by working out revenue from its own sources and assessing the borrowing capacity. Also, there are reports that spending on Central schemes by the Union Territory government was less. The Centre could have administrative reasons for the delay but there was nothing political to it,” he said.
The AINRC-led NDA government had presented a vote on account of ₹3,613 crore in March to meet the expenditure needs of the administration for the first five months of the current financial year. A full budget has to be presented in the Assembly before the end of August to meet the expenditure requirements for the months after August during the fiscal.