Jayalalithaa partially welcome Budget for seriousness

Chennai,10 July-2014: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday welcomed the Union Budget and said it reflected the seriousness with which the new government has set about the task of addressing the challenges of revival of growth and improving the macro-economic situation of the country. She also called it a responsible document and a forward looking exercise in positivity.

Jayalalithaa partially welcome Budget for seriousness

English: Palm Trees in Tamil Nadu
Palm Trees in Tamil Nadu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is the full text of TN CM:

Union Budget 2014-15 reflects the seriousness with which the new Government of India has set about the task of addressing the challenge of revival of growth and improving the macro-economic situation of the country. It is a very responsible document which has placed fiscal prudence at the fore-front and at the same time addresses the heightened expectations from the new Government. It is a forward looking exercise in positivity.
The Budget has commenced in right earnest the process of tackling the problems and issues head on. Many of the announcements made in the President’s Address have also been given concrete shape in the Budget. A clear fiscal road map to contain the fiscal deficit has been provided. The setting up of the Expenditure Management Commission is a welcome development and I do hope that the Commission will address the issue of expenditure management in the appropriate socio-economic context of the country and keeping the welfare objectives in view.

I expect there will be opportunities to voice our concerns regarding ensuring the food and fuel security of the poor and weaker sections before the Commission. I welcome the assurance of the Finance Minister that he will be “more than fair” to the States in addressing their concerns regarding the implementation of GST, relating to both fiscal autonomy and compensation of revenue loss issues. An accommodative and constructive approach from the Central Government could pave the way to enacting the necessary legislation on GST.
The proposals relating to permitting FDI need to be approached with caution. In particular, the proposal to permit manufacturing entities set up with FDI to sell their products through retail, including e-commerce platforms, should not extend to permitting FDI in retail. We welcome the programme to establish 100 Smart Cities.
While thanking the Government of India for including the development of Ponneri as a Smart City, Tamil Nadu, with the highest urbanization rate amongst large States, should naturally be the location for a larger number of the planned Smart Cities. We look forward to the details of the programme and expect to avail of our due share of the Rs 7,060 crores provision in the Budget for smart cities and the pooled funding provision of Rs.50,000 crores for urban renewal. The National Industrial Corridors mentioned in the Budget speech including the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor and the Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, while linking Chennai and thereby helping neighbouring states to take advantage of its natural strengths, do not benefit many backward regions and districts within Tamil Nadu. Hence, I request that the Government of India must consider the further extension of these corridors within Tamil Nadu as well. The Madurai-Thoothukudi Industrial Corridor proposed to be implemented by Tamil Nadu can be considered as part of the East Coast Corridor by extending the Vizag-Chennai corridor further south.

I welcome the scheme to set up a textile mega cluster in Tamil Nadu. The proposal to encourage Real Estate Investment Trusts and Infrastructure Investment Trusts is of particular interest to us. Tamil Nadu will seek to take advantage of these vehicles to channelize investment for its ambitious Vision 2023 which requires substantial private investment as well.

Skill India Mission is also a timely endeavour in a critical area. Tamil Nadu will be able to take advantage of the initiative to promote both employment and entrepreneurship through this mission. The proposal to launch a special scheme for Scheduled Caste entrepreneurs is particularly welcome. I also welcome the changes proposed to the Apprenticeship Act.

The initiatives for the differently-abled are very essential. We do hope that as a State which has been particularly effective in implementing programmes for the welfare of the differently-abled, at least one of the new Braille presses will be established in Tamil Nadu.
The pilot initiatives on women safety in public transport and in large cities, as also the Beti Bachao/Beti Padhao scheme are very necessary interventions and I believe the initiatives that Tamil Nadu has already taken in this area would prove to be very useful models, including the Cradle Baby scheme and the Girl Child Education scheme launched by me two decades ago.

I am happy that the outlay for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana has been enhanced. I do hope that eligibility norms will also be appropriately modified as I had already requested to ensure that a state like Tamil Nadu which has already invested in rural connectivity is not deprived of its allocations to improve rural infrastructure. I am happy that my suggestions on modifiying the MNREGA to make the works more productive by focusing on asset creation and linking it to agricultural operations have been accepted. However, this should not be made mandatory in places where there is no possibility to link the scheme to agricultural operations. Tamil Nadu has been recognised as the leading State in the implementation of MNREGA in the Economic Survey 2013-14 and has considerable stakes in further improving the scheme. I also welcome the proposal to restructure the Backward Region Grant Fund to address intra-district inequalities. This has also been a long standing request of Tamil Nadu.
The Finance Minister has indicated that there would be a provision of Rs 3600 crore for water purification in areas with impure water including high fluoride and arsenic levels or salinity. I do hope the Government of India would support Tamil Nadu’s initiatives to set up desalination plants in the coastal areas suffering from acute water stress.

I thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister for having responded positively to my request and announcing the establishment of National Institute of Ageing at the Madras Medical College. I am happy that the Budget Speech has recognised the importance of River Linkage, an idea that I have repeatedly emphasized on earlier occasions and have also included in my Memorandum to the Prime Minister. I urge the Government of India to have the detailed study completed at the earliest.

I had also proposed the establishment of a Price Stability Fund at the national level, similar to the Fund created in Tamil Nadu. I welcome the announcement of the Finance Minister of the setting up of the Price Stability Fund with an allocation of Rs 500 crore. I do hope that the Finance Minister’s assurance that through the rationalization of coal linkages, adequate coal will be provided to power stations, will be implemented expeditiously.

We welcome the proposal to implement the Ultra Mega Solar Power plant in Tamil Nadu which would fit in well with the ambitious solar power policy of the State. I also welcome the proposal to revise mining royalty. The proposals to boost shipping industry and ports are commendable and I welcome the additional investment proposed for the Outer Harbour Project in Thoothukudi. Tamil Nadu as the State which receives the highest number of domestic tourists in the country, welcomes the measures to boost tourism, including the proposal to improve Heritage Towns including Kanchipuram and Velankanni. It would have been appropriate to include Srirangam as well.
I welcome the Financial Inclusion Mission. I have already set the goal of connecting all villages in Tamil Nadu to the banking network. I do hope that the Finance Minister will consult all stakeholders including State Governments before legislating the Indian Finance Code based on the recommendations of the FSLRC. The States are rightly concerned with some of the recommendations relating to co-operative banks, micro-finance institutions and prevention of financial scams and scandals.

I thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister for considering my request to enhance the allocation for the Modernization of Police Force scheme. We also look forward to Central support for setting up the Marine Police Stations. Given the constraints, the Finance Minister has provided modest taxation relief on personal income tax by raising the exemption limit to Rs 2,50,000 which will benefit the working class. The increase in Section 80 C limit to Rs 1,50,000 is a welcome measure to enhance financial savings. The other Direct and Indirect tax proposals are corrections of distortions and inverted duty structures which would help revival of growth in domestic manufacturing. The incentives for solar power and wind power equipment manufacture will also be of relevance to Tamil Nadu which is a leader in new and renewable energy. The increase in taxation of tobacco and tobacco products is critical not only from a revenue perspective, but also in addressing public health concerns.
On the whole, I expect that this forward looking budget will lead to economic revival and ensure that further incentives to growth can be afforded in the next two to three years.