Chennai: With an eye on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Tamil Nadu government in Thursday announced the opening of 100 subsidised 'Amma' pharmacies in budget 2014-15, which estimates a surplus of Rs 289.36 crore sans new taxes.
After opening 'Amma Canteens' and 'Amma mineral water', the government would set up 100 'Amma Marundagam' (medical stores) which will sell medicines at reasonable prices.
Finance Minister O. Pannerselvam, who presented the budget in the Assembly, also enhanced food subsidy allocation to Rs 5,300 crore, up by Rs 400 crore from the previous year.
He also proposed an allocation of Rs 2,000 crore for distribution of fans, mixies and grinders to 35 lakh families during the year free of cost.
He earmarked Rs 1,100 crore in budget 2014-15 for the ambitious free laptop scheme for students of Class X11 and polytechnic colleges.
The two schemes, in operation since 2011, were launched to fulfill the AIADMK's electoral promise. The budget announced maintenance allowance of Rs 4,000 to potters to support their livelihood during rainy season, allocating Rs 4.5 crore annually.
The Government also announced a slew of new projects. It also allocated Rs 2,000 crore for 17 projects, involving bridge works, road works and railway-over-bridges with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
In its bid to lure investors, particularly to the infrastructure sector, the government will be organising a global investors' meet (GIM) in October this year for which Rs 100 crore has been earmarked.
The state government blamed the Centre for its 'failure' to stimulate growth, which it said had an adverse impact on the state's economy and investments for the second successive year.
Continuing its measures to boost generation to overcome the acute power shortage, the budget proposed setting up of Green Energy Corridors for evacuation of wind power.
The budget has allotted Rs 1,593 crore, with financial assistance from KfW, the German Funding Agency.
Paneerselvam also proposed allocating Rs 5,400 crore and Rs 2,000 crore to TANGEDCO (power generation and distribution company as tariff subsidy and share capital assistance, respectively.
Panneerselvam also announced a special purpose vehicle to implement the Madurai-Tuticorin Industrial Corridor project for which a detailed project report has already been prepared.
Explaining about the salient features of the budget, Finance Secretary K. Shanmugam said the total revenue was Rs 1,27,389 crore while expenditure was Rs 1,27,100 crore Rs 1,27,100 crore.
"The state will continue to maintain a revenue surplus in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Fiscal deficit for 2014-15 is estimated at Rs 25,714 crore," he told reporters. Noting that the government was allowed to borrow up to 25 per cent of its gross state domestic product (GSDP), he said for the period 2014-15 it has been revised to 18.91 per cent.
"The outstanding public debt including provident fund will be Rs 1,78,170.76 crore. This will be 18.91 per cent.", he said.
Another highlight of the budget he said was the thrust given to social sector which accounts to 37 per cent of the GSDP. The Government has announced funds of Rs 47,968 crore to social sector for various welfare schemes including to pensioners, he said.
The State electricity Board (TANGEDCO) which has been reeling under poor financials would get Rs 5,197 crore subsidy.
"For the 2013-14, the subsidy given to the electricity board is Rs 4,970 crore. For 2014-15, it is Rs 5,197 crore", he said.
The revenue earnings from Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC), which retails Indian Made Foreign Liquor, was expected to go up to Rs 26,295 crore during 2014-15 as against Rs 23,401 crore in the current year.
Due to low growth in the real estate sector, the revenue estimates from registration and stamp duty estimates have been reduced by Rs 652.24 crore in the revised estimate of 2013-14. For 2014-15, it is estimated to be Rs 10,470.18 crore assuming a growth of 13.54 per cent, he said.
In the revised estimates for 2013-14, the overall own tax revenue projection has to be downsized from Rs 86,065.40 crore to Rs 83,363.21 crore.
"With an overall growth of 10.16 per cent over revised estimates 2013-14, the state's own tax revenue is projected to be Rs 91,835.35 crore for 2014-15", he said.