TAMIL NADU

Cut in funds allocation unjust: Ponnaiyan

CHENNAI May 9. Continuing his tirade against the Centre for the ``unjust'' cut in allocation of funds for Tamil Nadu, the Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, today charged the DMK-inclusive NDA Government with ``treating States like dolls.''

In his reply to the debate on the Appropriation Bill, Mr. Ponnaiyan wanted to know whether the DMK remained a mute spectator to the reduction in outlay for the State only to thwart the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa's objective of making the State No.1 in the country.

Listing out the various ``financial injustices'' meted out to the State by the Centre, the Minister said the plan outlay for the State had been cut down by Rs.1,080 crores in this fiscal alone.

Besides, the Centre had cut the share in corporate taxes, imposed curbs on external borrowings for all States and provided more funds for its favourite States such as Andhra Pradesh under the discretionary allocation of funds.

``But the DMK members who are claiming to be younger brothers of Annadurai, who fought for more powers for the State, are remaining silent,'' he said.

Also, the DMK leader and Union Commerce Minister, Murasoli Maran, was a member of the committee which recommended such ``unjust allocations'' for developed States.

Protesting the remark, the DMK member, K.Ponmudi, said that the Planning Commission and Finance Commission were recommendatory bodies and asked the Minister to name the panel of which Mr.Maran was a member.

Mr.Ponnaiyan said the Union Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha himself had informed him that it was the political affairs committee, which took the policy decision. And Mr.Maran was a member of the committee.

Free dhoti scheme

Responding to the Opposition's plea for resuming the free dhoti and saree scheme, the Minister charged the previous DMK regime with swindling Rs. 2.65 crores due to ``wrong tendering procedures''. Hence, the Government had decided to weed out irregularities and implement the scheme ``at an appropriate time''.

As for the objections of the Opposition to the move to privatise bus routes, Mr. Ponnaiyan said that only uneconomical routes were being privatised. ``Why should the members object to the Government getting additional revenue through levy of taxes from the private operators,'' he asked.

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