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Sunday, Mar 03, 2002

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Jayalalithaa sworn in; to focus on economy

Our Bureau

The Tamil Nadu Governor, Mr P.S. Ramamohan Rao, talking to the new Chief Minister after the swearing-in ceremony of Ms Jayalalithaa and her Ministers in Chennai on Saturday. Also in the picture is the Finance Minister, Mr C. Ponnaiyan (extreme left).

CHENNAI, March 2

"MY immediate goal is to pull Tamil Nadu out of the financial mess and put the State's economy back on rails," said the Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa, here on Saturday.

Addressing the media at the Secretariat in the evening, she, however, declined to spell out what measures the Government had in mind to improve the State's finances.

She said the Government's policies would be spelt out in the address of the Governor to the Assembly, which was scheduled for March 9. Therefore, she said, it would not be appropriate for her to mention what the Government intended to do. The Governor's address as well as the budget, which would follow later in the month, would spell out in detail the Government's plan of action.

To a question, she said Tamil Nadu was still an attractive investment destination and figures to support this would be provided during the Assembly session.

Her attention was drawn to the promises made during her campaign to the by-election to the Andipatti constituency, from where she was elected, regarding free supply of power to farm pumpsets and on the public distribution. Were not these the two expenditure heads for the Government? All the promises made during the campaign would be kept, she said.

A questioner referred to the size of the ministry (27 including Ms Jayalalithaa) and wanted to know how this could be justified when the State was facing a financial crisis?

The size of the ministry had nothing to do with the financial situation. What was essential was efficiency of administration. There were 30 districts and the numbers were required for effective administration. Even assuming one minister per district to oversee the functioning of the administration, "We are actually three short,'' she said.

The verdict by the Courts, and tremendous victory she got in Andipatti had ensured political stability this time around. Such stability was a `prerequisite' for development and growth. "It is a time not for politics but for administration,'' she said.

On assuming office, she said had signed three files, which included sanction for a Rs 158-crore rural water supply project to be funded with term loan assistance from the LIC.

The project included the Rs 98-crore Sedapatti integrated water supply scheme, which was an election promise, she said.

The other scheme was the Rs 63.11-crore per year project envisaged to eradicate malnutrition among the children over the next four years.

In the morning, the Governor, Mr P.S. Ramamohan Rao, administered the oath of office and secrecy to Ms Jayalalithaa and her Cabinet colleagues.

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