CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu's finance minister D Jayakumar today presented a tax-free budget for the year 2017-18 with a projected fiscal deficit of Rs.41,977 crore. He candidly admitted that the budget proposals were prepared under severe resource constraints.
“The uncertainty in the domestic economy continues. This government is working hard to overcome this and to reverse the economic downtrend,” the finance Minister said presenting the maiden budget of the 'Edapaddi' K Palaniswami-led government in the assembly. He said the net outstanding debt at the end of March 31, 2018 would be Rs.3,14,366 crore including the debt taken over from TANGEDCO, the state-run monopoly power supplier.
However, the Debt-GSDP ratio would be 20.90 per cent which is well below the Debt-GSDP norm of 25 per cent. Just as Speaker P Dhanapal called the Finance Minister to present the budget, Leader of Opposition MK Stalin raised the issue of ‘no confidence motion’ given by the DMK members against the Speaker. Responding to this, the Speaker said the notice given for ‘no confidence’ motion was not in proper form.
The DMK, however, had given another notice for ‘removal of Speaker’ on March 9, which could be taken only after 14 days. Dhanapal assured that he would take up the issue in the current session itself. Accepting this, Stalin resumed the seat. Referring to the O Panneerselvam-led rebellion with in the ruling party, said, “Late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has handed over the lamp of governance to us. Amidst the political turbulence created by some of our brothers, who have been misguided by some, that lamp has been protected and it is duty to keep it as an eternal lamp to continue our journey towards progress.”
Referring to the poor fiscal state of the Tamil Nadu government, Jayakumar said the government will leave no stone unturned to bring the State back on the path of fiscal consolidation.
Referring to the Economic Survey which had projected the growth rate for 2017-18 between 6.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent, the finance minister said “the pace of economic activity is picking up and it is expected that Gross State Domestic Product will grow at 7.94 per cent at constant prices during 2016-17. We expect that the concerted efforts of this government will further create a favourable environment for increased private and public investment in key sectors, thus boosting the economic growth to nine per cent during the year 2017-18.”
Jayakumar announced that the State government would replace the State Planning Commission with the State Development Policy Council to advise the government on policy coherence and formulation of programmes to guide the development of the State.