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Migrant safety among TN budget promises. DMK govt says revenue deficit cut in half since 2021

Chennai: Presenting its third budget Monday, the M.K. Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) announced a monthly disbursal of Rs 1,000 a month to women heads of households — fulfilling one of his most important pre-poll promises. 

The government also announced schemes for migrant workers and assured them of their safety — a development that comes in the middle of a raging row centred on migrants.  

Presenting his Budget for 2023-24 in the House, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, or PTR, announced a total budget of Rs. 3.08 lakh crore. 

He also announced that his government had allocated money for several initiatives and projects for the tier 2 cities of Coimbatore (9 projects) and Madurai (8 projects). According to political analysts, the projects are part of the DMK’s strategy to woo the state’s western and southern regions, where it remains weak in comparison to rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).  

The state government, the finance minister said while reading out the Budget, has “outperformed by growing faster than the national average.” He said that according to this year’s revised estimates, the state’s annual revenue deficit now stands at Rs 37, 540.45 crore, down from Rs 62,000 crore that the state had in May 2021, when his government came to power. 

The revenue deficit currently stands at 1.32 per cent of the GSDP, according to this year’s estimates.

Tamil Nadu’s outstanding debt is expected to go up to Rs. 7.26 lakh crore on March 31, 2024, the minister said. 

PTR also said that the state’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), which had witnessed a “precipitous fall in the last 10 years (of the AIADMK regime) and reached 5.58 per cent in 2020-21”, currently stood at 6.11 per cent. 

The Budget reading also witnessed its share of drama, with Leader of Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami leading the AIADMK walkout at the start of the speech to protest the alleged irregularities in the Erode East by-election, price hikes, and “declining law and order situation” in the state. 

Speaking to the media outside the assembly, Palaniswami said: “In 23 months, the prices of essentials have gone up. The debt has also increased”.

Also Read: ‘Clean politics’ push, closed-door meeting — what Annamalai’s curveballs could mean for BJP-AIADMK


PTR said his government had earmarked Rs 77,000 crore for power projects to help generate 14,500 MW of electricity, Rs.40,229 crore for school education, Rs.6,967 crore for the state’s higher education department, and Rs.18,661 crore for the health department.

His announcement of an honorarium of Rs 1,000 crore met with a huge round of applause from his party colleagues. Amid the cheers of appreciation, PTR called the policy a “game changer”. 

The much-touted monthly assistance was one of the key promises made in the 2021 assembly elections. Both AIADMK and the Bharatiya Janata Party have criticised the government in the past for not having fulfilled this promise. 

However, while campaigning for the Erode East by-election last month, Stalin reiterated the promise. 

In his Budget speech, PTR said that his government had earmarked Rs 7,000 crore for the scheme, to be called Magalir Urimai Thogai (women’s rights fund), and the operational guidelines for it will be announced. 

The scheme, he said, would be launched by Stalin on 15 September — the birth anniversary of DMK founder C.N. Annadurai.

BJP’s state president K. Annamalai, who has questioned the state government over the delay in fulfilling the poll promise, said: “We are happy that DMK remembered their poll promise 2 years after forming the government. We urge the government to provide 29,000 rupees taking into account the last 28 months and to all the 2.2 crore ration card holders”.

In response, state Minister for Electricity, Prohibition & Excise V. Senthil Balaji said: “What happened to that 15 lakh (a promise made by PM Narendra Modi), will they (BJP) give with interest?”

Reassuring migrants

As the row over the alleged attacks on migrants continues to roil the state, the state government announced several schemes for them. 

The DMK government announced that migrant workers would be included in the ‘Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam’ (Medical help for people) scheme, which he said was now being to 711 factories to cover 8.35 lakh workers in the first phase.

PTR too assured migrant workers of their safety. “Eleven cases have been filed,” he said. “And 4 lakh workers were personally visited by a team to counter the fake videos”.

The government also announced multiple development projects for Chennai, Coimbatore, and Madurai. The state, he said, had set aside Rs 1 crore each for a ‘Comprehensive Development Plan’, called ‘Ezhilmigu Kovai’ and ‘Ma-Madurai’, for an integrated, holistic, and planned development of Coimbatore and Madurai. 

The state also announced spending for new modern hostels for SC/ST students, metro rail schemes, speciality wings in the government hospitals for the region, and the Jal Jeevan Mission for Chennai, Madurai, and Coimbatore.

Political researcher Raveenthran Duraisamy told ThePrint that the DMK wants to strengthen itself in places where it considers itself weak. 

“They are very strong in north Tamil Nadu, now they want to develop the party in Coimbatore and Madurai as well,” he said.

Among other allocations, the state government has earmarked Rs 500 crore towards the DMK government’s flagship  Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Breakfast Scheme, which is likely to benefit 18 lakh students. 

The state will provide Rs. 7,500 a month for 10 months to 1,000 students to help them prepare for the civil services prelims examination and a lumpsum of Rs. 25,000 after clearing that stage, the finance minister said. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: ’40 suicides in 3 yrs’: As DMK & governor clash over ban, online gambling takes deadly toll in TN

Source: The Print

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