No-frills budget in face of Tamil Nadu’s falling revenues

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The Minister said a sum of Rs 615 crore had been sanctioned to tackle the drinking water crisis.

Chennai: Finance minister D. Jayakumar on Thursday presented a budget free of new taxes and with an emphasis on fund allocation for existing welfare schemes, agriculture and enhancement of water resources.

The Fiscal Deficit has been projected at Rs 41,977 crore, which is about 2.79 percent of GSDP in the budget estimates 2017-2018, he said and added it would be within the norms prescribed. Jayakumar said the outstanding debt including provident fund would be Rs 3,14,366 crore, which will constitute 20.90  per cent of growth of state domestic product.

In his budget speech in the Assembly, he said the pace of economic activity is picking up and the state GDP is expected to grow at 7.94 percent during 2016-2017.  He said “the concerted efforts of the state government will further create a favourable environment for increased private and public investment in key sectors, thus boosting the economic growth to nine percentp.

Announcing a new scheme called ‘Farmer Producer Organisations’, Jayakumar said fragmentation of land holdings is a major challenge to agriculture with 74.47 lakh out of the total 81.18 lakh operational holdings being small and marginal.

According to the new scheme, small and marginal farmers would be joined as farmer producer groups’ which will be federated into ‘Farmer Producer Organisations’ to promote collective farming for credit mobilisation, better adoption of technology and to facilitate effective forward and backward linkages. In 2017-2018, as a pilot project, 2,000 such groups would be promoted, each comprising not less than 100 farmers to cover at least two lakh farmers with each group getting a corpus fund of Rs 5 lakh besides channelising grants and credit from NABARD and Small Farmer Agri Business Consortium.

To tide over drought situation, the government is taking up works like erection of new deep borewells, rejuvenation of existing borewells and open wells, replacement of pump-sets and supply of water through lorries at needy areas at a cost of Rs 460 crore in rural areas and Rs 150 crore in urban areas, he said.

The Minister said a sum of Rs 615 crore had been sanctioned to tackle the drinking water crisis. After enumeration, 32.30 lakh farmers have been identified as having suffered crop loss over an extent of 50.35 lakh acres. Input subsidy relief totalling Rs 2,247 crore has been sanctioned and is being released directly to farmers’ bank accounts.

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