Friday, March 5, 2021

Will Tamil Nadu’s interim Budget have a scheme?

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With Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam set to present an interim budget in the Assembly on Tuesday, the question being debated in government and political circles is whether he will announce a scheme, following the example set by the Centre two years ago.

Deviating from the convention of refraining from launching schemes at the presentation of an interim Budget, the BJP-led government at the Centre, in Februrary 2019, unveiled the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), which was meant to provide farmers up to ₹6,000 a year as minimum income support.

‘Rules more sacrosanct’

S. Semmalai, a veteran legislator from the ruling party, sees no harm in taking the path shown by the Centre.

“Rules and laws are more sacrosanct than convention. If the requirements of the people have to be attended to, there is nothing wrong in altering the conventions.”

C.K. Tamizharasan, leader of the Indiya Kudiyarasu Katchi and a four-time former legislator, feels that a departure from convention has become common in recent times as there is no legal bar on the announcement of schemes.

When contacted, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar, who is regarded as the Cabinet spokesperson, declined to comment.

Rule 110

A few former officials point out that more than making any announcement in the interim Budget, what has become the norm in Tamil Nadu in the last 15 years or so is the use of Rule 110, under which Ministers are permitted to make a statement on a matter of public importance, followed by no debate.

The Chief Minister of the day makes major announcements under the rule.

This practice makes everyone wonder whether the Budget in general, as a comprehensive statement on the schemes and polices of the government, has lost its sheen, the former officials add.

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