Former finance minister O Panneerselvam on Friday released a 39-page document to counter current Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan’s white paper on the state’s economy, arguing that the priority of the AIADMK government was people’s welfare.
In his white paper, released to the public on Monday, Thiaga Rajan had alleged financial mismanagement by two successive AIADMK governments. In Monday’s document, Panneerselvam has argued that the white paper skips key facts – such as the decision of the previous governments to not increase electricity charges, bus fares and property tax.
Panneerselvam cited these decisions to stipulate that it was the “best example” for how late J Jayalalithaa’s government prioritised people’s welfare in spite of challenges that emerged from an economic slowdown and lower revenues.
The former CM also argued that the state’s fiscal deficit was below 3% between the 2011-12 and 2018-19 periods, except for the 2016-17 financial year. He added that the fiscal deficit stood at 3.26% in 2019-20 despite a drastic reduction in the tax share from the Centre.
While Panneerselvam cited reasons such as the introduction of the GST and recession for insufficient growth of state’s tax revenue after 2016-17, he also blamed the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission for worsening the state’s financial situation. He said there has been a dip of 1 percent in the state’s commercial taxes vis-àvis GSDP and an additional Rs 4,246 crore cut in the state’s share of Central revenues from 2019-20. He added that there was also a shortfall of nearly Rs 40,000 crore in the projected and actual revenue for the year 2020-21 FY due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reminding that the AIADMK government also had decided to take over state-run power agency TANGEDCO’s debt burden – to the tune of Rs 22,500 crore – Panneerslevam said delivering goods to the people through efficient management was the approach of his party’s governments.