TAMIL NADU

Karunanidhi rebuts charge of profligacy

CHENNAI Oct. 31. Questioning the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa's repeated assertions that the DMK regime was responsible for the State's present fiscal crisis, the DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, wondered how his Government could implement so many welfare schemes and offer so many concessions to employees.

In a detailed response to the Government's charges of profligacy during his rule, Mr. Karunanidhi said the Chief Minister could not continue to blame the previous regime 18 months after assuming power.

"If the Government's coffers were really empty, how could we have implemented so many schemes and offered 20 per cent bonus to State undertaking employees and an annual bonus to government employees?" he asked. He pointed out that the AIADMK's labour union demanded 25 per cent bonus, but failed to raise its voice after its Government announced a mere 8.33 per cent for two years now.

The DMK chief said the free saree and dhoti scheme, farmers' markets, Samathuvapurams and the Anna Marumalarchi programme, were some of the various schemes launched during his administration. The present regime not only discontinued most of the schemes, but also complained that it had no resources.

Mr. Karunanidhi noted that the Government imposed additional taxes and increased bus fares as well as power tariff, followed by an upward revision in the price of ration rice above 10 kg. It denied government employees bonus and offered only a minimum 8.33 per cent bonus to staff of the State undertakings. It was not able to pay dearness allowance on a par with the Central Government employees. And for all this, the Chief Minister continued to blame the previous DMK regime.

The DMK leader claimed that his government was able to find the resources for the welfare measures because there was a substantial increase in revenue during the five years his party was in power. From Rs. 11,068 crores in 1996-97, the Government's revenue rose to Rs. 20,635 crores in 2001-02, he explained. The State recorded impressive growths both in investments in industry as well as in exports.

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