CHENNAI: The budget session of the State Assembly on Monday got off to a smooth start with a lively debate on a few issues. Though there were charges and counter charges and an intense debate, there were no heated exchanges. When former Minister RB Udhayakumar expressed apprehension that the white paper on State’s finances was released to take an excuse not fulfilling the DMK’s electoral promises, Chief Minister MK Stalin asserted that his government would not backtrack on its promises and would fulfil them.
Responding to the remarks of Udhyakumar who initiated the discussion on the revised budget for 2021-22 and the first exclusive budget for agriculture, the Chief Minister referred to the former Minister's charge regarding the DMK's promises for waiver of jewel loans and crop loans. "There were many irregularities in both of these schemes during the previous regime and these waivers will be given after setting right the irregularities."
The Chief Minister also said the people of Tamil Nadu had never forgotten the unfulfilled promises of the AIADMK during its earlier regimes. "You (the AIADMK) promised to provide mobile phones to people and Aavin milk pocket at Rs.25. Also promised Amma Mineral water free of cost, grocery items at cheaper prices, Amma Bank Cards, Rs.500 coupon for buying Cooptex cloths, formation of self help groups for farms, establishing special shops for selling fruits, provision of wi-fi in public places, setting up of Ambedkar Foundation and silk cum textile parks, operating mono rail in Chennai etc. But have you fulfilled any of these promises?" Stalin asked.
Reiterating that no one needs to have any doubt about the fulfilment of the DMK's electoral promises, Stalin said that the promises on waiver of jewel loans and crop loans would be fulfilled after setting right the irregularities and by solving the shortage of funds.
To this, Leader of the Opposition, Edappadi K Palaniswami said the previous DMK government promised two acres of land to landless farmers. But it was given to all. Similarly, during the election time, the DMK promised to give Rs.1,000 to women heads of families. Now, the Minister said it would be given to women hailing from poor families alone this assistance would be given.
To this, the Cooperation Minister said 2.5 lakh acres of lands were given to landless farmers and the then Chief Minister told the Assembly that even a small piece of available land would be given only to the landless farmers.
Referring to the remark of Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan that it would take around two to three years to set right the economic situation in Tamil Nadu, Udhayakumar said, "When the AIADMK government assumed office in 2011, the financial situation was precarious. But despite that, the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had implemented many welfare schemes for the public."
Responding, the Finance Minister said under Rule 110, many announcements were made during the AIADMK regime and many of them were not implemented. The status of the announcements made during the AIADMK regime and related information would be given to the Assembly very soon. Udhayakumar said during the AIADMK regime, 715 announcements were made and of them, 537 social security schemes were implemented while government approval was given to 161 and for the rest action was taken.
Earlier, Udhayakumar said the AIADMK government had hiked the old age pension from Rs.500 to Rs.1,000. Countering, the Finance Minister said around 25 percent of beneficiaries were left out from the old age pension scheme by the AIADMK government. Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran said around seven lakh beneficiaries were removed from the list of old age pensioners. Cooperation Minister I Periyasamy said the old age pension was first hiked by former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi from Rs.200 to Rs.400 and later to Rs.500. The Finance Minister also said the shortcomings in the old age pension scheme would be removed and around 10 percent more beneficiaries would be identified and added to the scheme.
Intervening, Leader of the Opposition, Edappadi K Palaniswami said only ineligible persons were removed from the list of old age pensioners. Responding, the Cooperation Minister dared Palaniswami to release the list of ineligible persons for the old age pension scheme.