In a bid to fulfil one of its key electoral promises, the Tamil Nadu government will launch the Magalir Urimai Thogai scheme, providing financial assistance of ₹1,000 per month to women heads of eligible households, this year, on September 15, the birth anniversary of late Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai.
State Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, who made this announcement as part of the 2023-24 budget he presented in the Assembly on Monday, said that ₹7,000 crore has been allotted for the scheme. He said that the scheme, once implemented, will be one of the biggest cash transfer schemes implemented by any State government in India’s history. He made the announcement amid continuous thumping of desks by the treasury benches and MLAs belonging to parties in alliance with the DMK.
The criteria on which households will be eligible for the scheme and other operational guidelines will be released later by the government. Mr. Thiaga Rajan said that women heads of families who have been adversely affected by the sharp rise in the price of cooking gas made by the Union government, as well as the overall price rise, would benefit greatly from the scheme.
Highlighting that the month of September has a special significance to the Dravidian movement, he said the scheme was also being launched in the centenary year of late Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
The Finance Minister also emphasised the gains made by the State government since it came to power in increasing the State’s Own Tax Revenue (SOTR) as a percentage of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) and in reducing fiscal and revenue deficits.
Despite allotting ₹7,000 Crore for the Magalir Urimai Thogai scheme, he said that the revenue deficit has been contained at 1.32 per cent of the GSDP in the budget estimate for 2023-24, which was much below the levels of 2017-18.
He said that the SOTR was expected to increase to ₹1.81 lakh crore in 2023-23, which will be 19.3 % higher than the revised estimate of 1.52 lakh crore for the year 2022-23.
While the revenue expenditure for 2022-23 was expected to reduce from the budget estimate of ₹2.83 lakh crore to ₹2.76 lakh crore in the revised estimates through prudent fiscal management, the Minister highlighted that the government, however, has ensured adequate allocation towards developmental needs. He pointed to the increase of around ₹5,000 crore in the revised estimates for subsidies and transfers.