ANDHRA PRADESH

`Vote-on-account necessary'

RAJAHMUNDRY, FEB. 26. The Finance Minister, Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, on Thursday said that the Cabinet would meet in the last week of March and recommend to the Governor to promulgate an ordinance for drawal of monies through `vote on account' for a period of four months. This is necessary in view of the dissolution of the Assembly, the Finance Minister added.

Speaking to newsmen in Tuni, about 100 km from here, Mr.Ramakrishnudu said that in the preparation of the budget, priority would be given to irrigation, power, welfare and agriculture. He said that there was no possibility of increasing taxes as there was improvement in tax collections and the same would be further streamlined to improve revenues. The World Bank loan of Rs.1600 crore would form part of resource mobilisation for the financial year 2004-05, he said.

The Finance Minister refuted the propaganda of the Opposition parties that the Government would go in for privatisation of RTC, Singareni Collieries and three sugar factories. There was no such proposal with the Government, the Minister clarified, asserting that this was all the `mischievous disinformation campaign' by the Opposition. The propaganda that the retirement age would be reduced from 58 to 55 was not true, he said.