The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday presented a revenue deficit budget of Rs 17,490.58 crore for 2018-19 even as it allocated crores of rupees for welfare initiatives, including free laptop for school students. Targeting the state government on the Cauvery river water issue, opposition parties led by DMK, however, staged a walkout from the Assembly on the opening day of the house.
Soon after Panneerselvam began his budget speech, DMK MLAs led by leader of opposition in the Assembly, M K Stalin clad in black shirt, sought the Speaker’s permission to raise an issue. As Speaker P Dhanapal declined, he led a walk out of his party MLAs. Congress MLAs led by legislature party leader K R Ramasamy later followed suit. However, the government went ahead with its budget presentation.
Betting on the investments made by it in the primary sector and measures for attracting investments, Finance Minister O Panneerselvam who presented the budget said such measures could drive the economic growth to “surpass nine per cent” in the current fiscal despite challenges. He said fiscal consolidation against inadequate central devolution and slow growth of tax and non-tax revenues was among the challenges.
The total revenue receipts are projected to be Rs 1,76,251.48 crore and the total revenue expenditure is projected to be Rs 1,93,742.06 crore during 2018-19, leaving a revenue deficit of Rs 17,490.58 crore, he said. Taking the pay revision into account, salaries and allowances are estimated to be Rs 52,171.18 crore and pension and other retirement benefits are estimated to be Rs 25,362.20 crore in the budget estimates 2018-19, he noted. A sum of Rs 758 crore has been allocated for providing laptops to school students during the current fiscal and similarly allocations have been made for other welfare and social security schemes.
“The economy is slowly picking up, which is evident from the increase in GSDP growth rate in real terms, from 4.85 per cent in 2012-13 to 8.03 per cent in 2017-18 despite the temporary setbacks in between,” the minister said. As Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, holding a suitcase displaying the image of late J Jayalalithaa, entered the Assembly along with Chief Minister K Palaniswami to present the budget for 2018-19, AIADMK MLAs gave a rousing reception by thumping the desks. It is for the first time that Panneerselvam is presenting the budget after joining hands with with K Palaniswami last year.
Panneerselvam as Finance Minister had presented the budget in the presence of the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016-17. Last year, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, who was also handling the Finance Minister portfolio, presented the budget.
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