Ponnaiyan rebuts Chidambaram's charges on economy

CHENNAI, APRIL 24. The Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, has joined issue with the former Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, on his charge that Tamil Nadu's economy declined over the past three years.

In a rebuttal to Mr. Chidambaram's remarks made at a press conference at Sivaganga on April 19, Mr. Ponnaiyan charged that he had ``put out some data out of context'' and that some of the ``fiscal problems of all the States can be traced to the decisions taken by Mr. Chidambaram as Finance Minister.''

With respect to the decline in the primary sector including agriculture, which was 12.28 per cent in 2002-03, Mr. Ponnaiyan noted: ``This decline can clearly be attributed to Karnataka's failure in releasing water in the Cauvery, disobeying the Supreme Court's direction and the drought conditions in Tamil Nadu... Who is really responsible for this decline? It is the Congress party-ruled Karnataka Government which caused it. Mr. Chidambaram is now contesting with the backing of the Congress party as part of the Democratic Progressive Alliance. It is Mr. Chidambaram and the Congress party who have to accept the blame for the failure of Karnataka to release water in the Cauvery.''

``Mr. Chidambaram has talked of the period 1996-2001 and highlighted the achievements of the DMK. Obviously, he is under compulsion to do so in view of the forthcoming elections. What are the real facts? In the period 1991-96, the annual average growth rate registered was 6.61 per cent under the able leadership of our beloved leader Puratchi Thalaivi Amma as against 6.23 per cent in 1996-2001...''

``Mr. Chidambaram has gone at length to bale out his new found alliance partner, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, who was solely responsible for the fiscal ruin of Tamil Nadu. Why is Mr. Chidambaram hiding the fact that Tamil Nadu's finances crashed by the end of the DMK rule in 2000-01, leaving no chance for the State to recover? It is this fiscal mess left by Mr. Karunanidhi that caused enormous fiscal compression in 2001-02, which the AIADMK Government had to battle against...''

``Everyone knows that investment in manufacturing has grown in Tamil Nadu sharply after the AIADMK Government took office in May 2001. The published data of the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) shows that as at the end of October 2003, Tamil Nadu had received the highest quantum of new investment, Rs. 46,795 crores.''

In conclusion, Mr. Ponnaiyan said ``Tamil Nadu's economy has now recovered from all these problems and in the current year, 2004-05, it is expected to reach a record high growth level of 8 per cent.''

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