The Tamil Nadu government under the leadership of E.K. Palaniswami last week released its budget for the financial year 2017-2018. Much of the budget allocations remained same with a slight difference compared to the previous year’s. Also the tax rates are unchanged despite the highly inflated state debt.
The budget covered all the major areas and aspects, targeting the economic growth at 9% against the current 7.5%.
The government has increased the allocations for the schemes to be continued this year as well, however, no new schemes and allocations were announced. The government has allocated Rs 522 crore for crop insurance, Rs 116 crore for the information technology department and Rs 2,192 crore for the transport department. Another huge, Rs 3,042 crore loan from the World Bank will be used for conservation of various water bodies, and the budget also allocates Rs 625 crore for providing drinking water across the state. Rs 75 crore has been allocated for the Global Investors Meet, which will be held in 2017-18.
The state government as per the calculations would be burdened with a debt of Rs 3.14 trillion by the end of 2018. The revenue deficit would be Rs 15,930 crore for the financial year 2017-2018. The fiscal deficit stands at 4.58% in 2016-2017 against the 3% limit of the Fiscal Responsibility Budget Management (FRBM) norms of the gross state domestic product (GSDP).
Highly criticised sector this year in the budget was the education sector. No new schemes were launched. “We expected the announcements of new government colleges and universities in the budget. We have been demanding for the fee fixation committee to the arts and science colleges. The government also not clearly mentioned the vision or action plan for higher education, allocation of funds to the state universities should have been more,”; N. Pasupathy, general secretary, Association of University Teachers, said.
The state government announced that the welfare schemes like free uniforms, school bags and cycles will continue to be funded by the government. Rs 1,503 crore has been allocated for the same. Further, Rs 758 crore has been allocated for the free laptop scheme.
An increment of Rs 2,802 crore to the total budget of Rs 26,932 crore of the previous year’s budget has been done for the school education department. The higher education has been allocated with more or less same amount Rs 3,680 crore as last year. Though government has allocated Rs 201 crore for Right To Education admissions and announcement for upgradation of 150 middle schools high schools and 100 high schools to higher secondary schools during 2017-18 was made, the government has not come up with any new, innovative and impactful schemes for Education department. This year would remain like any other financial year without any landmark changes or clear action plans.