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Sunday, Mar 10, 2002

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TN Govt to prune Plan size to Rs 5,200 cr

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Mr P.S. Ramamohan Rao

CHENNAI, March 9

THE Tamil Nadu Government will sign an MoU with the Centre for a medium-term fiscal reform programme. This will provide the State access to funds from the Fiscal Reforms Facility set up by the Centre. The Government has also decided to prune the approved Plan size for 2001-02 to Rs 5,200 crore against the Rs 6,040 crore agreed upon earlier.

At the same time, the Government has announced a 15-point programme of development schemes that will form the road map for the next four years.

In his customary address to the Assembly on Saturday, the Governor, Mr P.S. Ramamohan Rao, said that with the financial year-end round the corner, and the options limited for raising additional resources, the Government has decided to prune the approved Plan outlay.

The Union Government's decision to reduce the share of Central taxes by Rs 512 crore and fall in growth of commercial tax collections due to the recessionary trend have contributed to the fiscal condition, he said. Other States too have had to prune the Plan outlay drastically, he said.

The Governor said the State Government has to take hard decisions, including cutting down on non-productive expenditure, better targeting of subsidies, greater accountability by public sector undertakings, and disinvestment and closing down of units to enable better deployment of resources and the tax payers' money.

With the Government having signed an MoU with the Centre on power sector reforms, steps are being taken to activate the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, he said.

The public transport network will receive attention, and select routes, services and operations in the bus-transport sector will be privatised. This, in conjunction with the financial restructuring of the transport corporations, will help enhance efficiency.

A new industrial policy to be announced in the Budget session will focus on attracting foreign and domestic private investments. The State Government will also constitute a WTO cell, which will evolve strategies for exploiting opportunities presented in international trade. The Government will ensure that the Centre consults all the States while taking decisions based on WTO-bindings, he said.

A new department of special initiatives and projects will process innovative schemes, he said. This department will be under the direct supervision of the Chief Minister. Fresh impetus and focus will be accorded to the development of biotechnology and information technology and IT-enabled services, including in rural areas, he said.

The Governor announced a 15-point development programme that will form the road map for the next four years for the Government. These include raising farm productivity and water conservation; providing food, water, health, livelihood, shelter, ecology, energy and livestock security; infrastructure development; and increasing literacy.

The Government also proposes to set up a mission mode programme for horticulture to encourage integrated development from the farm to market. This will be linked to the agro-economic and export processing zones for post-harvest storage and marketing.

A fisheries development mission will aim to increase sustainable exploitation of marine and inland resources. The agricultural economy will be rejuvenated with greater focus on enhancing production and productivity through technology infusion and modernisation.

The Governor's address, his first to the Assembly, was preceded by a walk-out by the DMK protesting, among other things, the tariff increases announced in November last and the alleged irregularities in the recently-concluded Andipatti by-elections, which Ms Jayalalithaa won.

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