Tamil Nadu State and Agri Budgets ‘Not Satisfying’
The Tamil Nadu State Budget and Agriculture Budget were presented on March 18 and 19 respectively. The roadmap for the next year is laid out and the ruling party is proud of its ‘Dravidian Model’.
Some unexpected and welcome announcements were made in both the budgets.
Rs 1,000 per month for girls who study in government schools and go on to pursue higher education was one of them. Also, the promise of a 20% additional subsidy for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes farmers in the Agriculture Budget received a positive response.
There has been a nominal increase in fund allocation across schemes, sectors, and departments.
However, experts in various fields have pointed out that the marginal increase is not sufficient. With the given inflation and price rise, the meagre increase makes little difference, they said.
To the disappointment of many, some of the much-awaited schemes and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) poll promises were not passed this time.
NEEDS AND PROMISES NOT MET
Funds were not allotted for the promise of providing Rs 1,000 per month for all women homemakers. The finance minister only announced that eligible beneficiaries, women heads of families, would be identified, and when the financial situation of Tamil Nadu improves, the scheme would be implemented.
DMK’s poll promise of extending rural employment guarantee from 100 days to 150 days per year was not passed this time. This is their second Budget since they stormed to power in August 2021.
Further, the budget did not mention anything on the lines of universalisation of the urban employment guarantee scheme.
Experts say that even though the actual needs of people were not considered, the Budget carefully touched upon all the necessary sectors. In that sense, it is tokenistic in essence.
Economist Prof Venkatesh Athreya said, “The Budget has stuck to fiscal fundamentalism, it has not questioned the Tamil Nadu Fiscal Deficit Act.”
Criticising the Dravidian model, he said, “There is a conflict between welfare and development in the state. But that is unnecessary; if you empower the people, they will have more purchasing power and that will uplift the economy.” He added, “The good thing is that the Budget has not scrapped any existing schemes”.
AGRI BUDGET NOT SATISFACTORY
Tamil Nadu agriculture and farmers welfare minister MRK Paneerselvam presented the state Agriculture Budget allocating a total of Rs 33,007.68 crores. This amount is slightly higher than the Rs 32,775.78 crore revised estimate for 2021-22.
P Shanmugam, Tamil Nadu general secretary of All Indian Kisan Sabha, told NewsClick, “Although there were some positives, we are not satisfied with the Budget. There was only a meagre Rs 221.90 crores increase in the Agriculture Budget compared to the previous year. If you calculate inflation and price rise, this amounts to nothing. As a primary sector, the allocation of funds (for agriculture) must be more.”
Noting the positive points in the Budget, he mentioned the 20% additional subsidy for SC/ST farmers and the promise to increase land under agriculture.
Allegedly, every year around one lakh-acre agricultural land is lost because it is transformed for other purposes.
“Small and tiny farmers are the majority in Tamil Nadu; more and special attention should have been given to them. They do not own tractors, machinery for ploughing, etc, they borrow them from private owners. A fixed amount and a system to ensure they are not overpriced should have been ensured,” said Shanmugam.
Rs 80 crore was allocated for desilting a 964-km stretch of the Cauvery canals in the delta districts of Tamil Nadu. Shanmugam said, “Desilting is a necessity, it must be done. But, how will it be done in just Rs 80 crores, it is impossible”.
Sugarcane farmers had high hopes for this budget, but now they are disappointed with the announcements made.
Shanmugam said, “There was only a meagre increase of Rs 2.50 in the special incentive for sugarcane, from Rs 192.50 to Rs 195 per tonne”. The DMK’s poll promise was to provide Rs 4,000 procurement price per tonne of sugarcane, but the Budget set it at only Rs 2,950 per tonne.
He also said, “The Agriculture Budget touches upon all topics, but it does not address the actual needs of the farmers.”
MSME’S NOT SAFEGUARDED
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are very disappointed with the State Budget 2022-23. The MSMEs were badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic imposed lockdowns over the past two years, and were expecting this year’s Budget to uplift them.
“When Hon'ble CHIEF MINISTER commented on Union Budget 2022 that it failed to uplift suffering MSMEs and that the union budget did not induce confidence in them, we thought the TN BUDGET 2022 will be a Budget for uplifting suffering MSMEs in TN. Unfortunately, it is not [sic],” read the statement released by the Consortium of Indian Associations.
“The Budget is supporting the enterprises that are already doing well,” said Raghunathan, Convenor of the Consortium.
“Raw material price hike has been the biggest concern for MSMEs but there is no announcement towards it to safeguard MSMEs from making heavy losses,” the Consortium observed.
After agriculture, MSMEs provide maximum employment in the state.
Moreover, the MSMEs are affected by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war because orders from European countries are reducing amid no signs of the conflict ending soon.
DIFFERENTLY ABLED PERSONS DISAPPOINTED
The Press Release of The Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) titled ‘The Budget with big disappointments and few positives’ reads: “It is evident that effort was not taken to uphold our legal rights”.
It further reads that “as per the 2016 Rights Act, within five years public infrastructure, transportation and other such provisions should be made differently-abled friendly, but the Budget has neglected it and this amounts to contempt of law”.
Rs 838 crores was allotted for the Department for the Welfare of Differently Abled Persons. Only a meagre Rs 25 crore increase from the previous year.
The state finance minister announced Rs 4,816 crore in the Budget for various social security pension schemes such as Old Age Pension, Destitute Widow Pension, and Pension for the Differently Abled.
“This is merely Rs 8 crore more than the allocation made last year. While the neighbouring states provide more than Rs 3,000 monthly allowance, the differently abled people are disappointed that the Tamil Nadu Budget has not taken efforts to meet up to that,” the statement says.
TARATDAC welcomed the move to upgrade the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Kilpauk, Chennai with Rs 40 crore allocation in the first phase of the project.
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