Tamil Nadu has reduced its revenue deficit by Rs 30,000 crore from Rs 62,000 crore, notwithstanding the several welfare schemes that have been implemented during the last two years, owing to the unprecedented and difficult reforms undertaken, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan said while presenting the 2023-24 Budget in the State Legislative Assembly on Monday. He said the deficit will be reduced further in the coming years.

The reduction is approximately Rs 5,000 crore lower than that in the pre-Covid year of 2019-20. In accordance with the mandate of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to achieve zero-revenue deficit, the State will adopt a smooth glide path without compromising on welfare initiatives and developmental priorities.

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan with Chief Minister M.K. Stalin

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan with Chief Minister M.K. Stalin

The main reason for the fiscal stress faced by the state government at the time of assuming office was the fall in tax revenue in the previous years. The state’s own tax revenues, which were at a healthy 8 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) during 2006-11, fell sharply in the last 10 years to touch 5.58 per cent in 2020-21. This is much lower when compared to other large states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Though the Tax-GSDP ratio has increased to 6.11 per cent in the current year, concerted action is needed to raise it further in order to find financial resources for welfare schemes, he said.

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High-tech global sports city

The minister announced setting up of a high-tech global sports city in Chennai. This will be set up by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority.

The minister also announced a Rs 40,299-crore allocation to the school education department; Rs 6,967 crore for the higher education department; and Rs 18,661 crore for State Health Care.

A sum of Rs 500 crore has been allocated to expand the Chief Minister’s Breakfast scheme for students, which would benefit around 18 lakh students.

Kalaignar Memorial Multi Super Speciality Hospital

The 1,000-bed Kalaignar Memorial Multi Super Speciality Hospital in the premises of the King Institute of Preventive Medicine and Research Centre, Guindy will be inaugurated this year. New speciality hospital buildings are being constructed in three Government medical college hospitals at Madurai, Coimbatore and Kilpauk at a total cost of Rs 1,020 crore and they will be put to use shortly, the minister said.

The minister said 54 Government polytechnics will be upgraded as Centres of Excellence at a total cost of Rs 2,783 crore. 

Further, Rs 25 crore has been allocated for ‘factory skill schools’ .

In the upcoming financial year, works for 5,145 km of roads will be undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore. .

Health insurance

Under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme, insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh will be given to each family every year. During the current year, so far, 11.82 lakh patients have availed of treatment worth Rs 993 crore, which is the highest since the inception of the scheme.

Co-operation, Food and Consumer Protection

To meet the DMK Government’s important poll promises, the Budget has allocated Rs 2,393 crore for the waiver of agricultural loans, Rs 1,000 crore for waiver of jewel loans and Rs 600 crore for waiver of self-help group loans, totalling Rs 3,993 crore.

The Government will frame a comprehensive long-term plan to carry out structural reforms in the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation to improve efficiency in operations and fiscal sustainability. An amount of Rs 10,500 crore has been provided towards Food Subsidy in the Public Distribution System. An allocation of Rs 16,262 crore has been made to the Co-operation, Food and Consumer Protection Department in this Budget, the minister said.

Environment, Climate Change and Forests

The Government will implement the ‘Tamil Nadu Coastal Restoration Mission’ with the objective of preventing sea erosion, reducing marine pollution and conserving marine biodiversity. The mission will be implemented with World Bank assistance at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore in the next 5 years.

A contiguous stretch of protected forests is essential to protect endangered wildlife. The Government will notify a new wildlife sanctuary Thanthai Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, with an extent of 80,567 hectares in the forest areas of Anthiyur and Gobichettipalayam taluks in Erode district, to link the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve with the Cauvery South Wildlife Sanctuary. This will be the 18th wildlife sanctuary in the State, he said.

To promote conservation of birds, encourage research in the field of ornithology and create awareness about the role of birds in nature, the Government will set up an International Bird Centre at Marakkanam at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore, he said.

Phase II of the Hogenakkal Combined Water Supply Scheme at a cost of Rs 7,145 crore will be posed for external funding assistance.

Singara Chennai

To realise the goal of Singara Chennai, the Government is committed to cleaning and restoring waterways, including Adyar and Cooum. In the first phase of these initiatives, the restoration of Adyar river for a length of 44 km will be taken up.

The project will include river cleaning activities such a prevention of sewage from entering the river and construction of Sewage Treatment Plants. Further, attractive recreational facilities such as aesthetic parks, green walkways, open-air gymnasiums and quality cafeteria will dot the banks of Adyar river. This project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 1,500 crore through the PPP mode, he said.

Balanced Growth

To ensure balanced and equitable development of Chennai, the Government will implement the ‘Vada Chennai Valarchi Thittam’ at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore over the next three years. Under this scheme, action will be taken to identify and address the infrastructure deficit and gaps in development. The scheme will be implemented by converging the funds of Chennai Metropolitan Development Agency with the ongoing schemes.

A four-lane elevated flyover on Anna Salai from Teynampet to Saidapet will be taken up for construction at an estimated cost of Rs 621 crore in the coming year.

Allocations of Rs 1,847 crore towards the Chennai Peripheral Ring Road Project, Rs 1,500 crore for the Chennai-Kanniyakumari Industrial Corridor Project and Rs 645 crore towards the Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project-II have been made in the Budget Estimates.

The Budget Estimate has allocated Rs 19,465 crore to the Highways and Minor Ports Department, he said.