TN Budget: Rs 1,000 monthly aid for women family heads from Sept 15

Finance Minister PTR also unveils global sports city in Chennai, factory skill schools, Metro rail projects

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, Budget 2023-24, Rs 1000 monthly assistance to women family heads
Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan presents the state Budget 2023-24 in the Assembly on Monday | Pic: Twitter/ANI

The DMK government’s much-publicised Rs 1,000 monthly assistance scheme for female heads of families in Tamil Nadu is finally set to materialise later this year. The state government on Monday (March 20) announced the launch of the scheme during the presentation of Budget 2023-24. It will be a “game changer in the socio-economic life of women of the state,” said state Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan (PTR).

Chief Minister MK Stalin will launch it on September 15 to mark the birth anniversary of Dravidian icon and DMK founder CN Annadurai (1909-1969). He was the CM of Tamil Nadu between 1967 and 1969, leading the first non-Congress government in the state in post-Independence India.

The game-changer

Making the announcement in his Budget address, PTR said the modalities were being worked out for the scheme’s implementation and Rs 7,000 crore has been set aside in the Budget 2023-24 for the plan.

He made the announcement towards the fag end of his budget address that stretched to two hours and two minutes. In Tamil, the assistance is officially known as “Magalir Urimai Thogai”, which means “Women’s Right to Assistance”. Women heads of eligible households would get the financial assistance.

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The Rs 1,000 assistance for female family heads was one of the electoral assurances made by the DMK ahead of the 2021 Assembly election, and it eventually became a very popular promise. The main opposition in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK, often attacked the DMK government for not implementing, it.

However, the DMK regime often reiterated that the scheme would soon see the light of the day.  Stalin, during his campaign for the recently held Erode (East) bypoll, had assured an announcement on the date of launch of the scheme in the Budget presentation.

Reduction in revenue deficit

While tabling the Budget, PTR said reform initiatives have led to a reduction in revenue deficit from about Rs 62,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore.

He said owing to the “unprecedented” and “difficult” reforms undertaken, “we have reduced the annual revenue deficit of around Rs 62,000 crore, which we inherited on assuming office (May 2021), to around Rs 30,000 crore in the Revised Estimates of the current year.”

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This is notwithstanding the several “massive welfare schemes” that are being implemented over the past two years, he said. Fare-free travel for women in state-run buses and breakfast scheme for government school students are among the several schemes being implemented.

Even as Rajan began his address, Opposition AIADMK tried to raise issues, leading to a din for a while. The party’s MLAs later staged a walkout.

Other announcements

The minister announced setting up of a hi-tech global sports city in Chennai, a memorial for Tamil martyrs Thalamuthu and Natarajan, Rs 5-crore allocation to translate Dr BR Ambedkar’s works into Tamil, a grand Chola museum in Thanjavur, and Rs 25 crore for factory skill schools and Metro rail projects for Coimbatore and Madurai.

Rajan also announced the renovation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Outdoor Stadium in Chennai at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore. Besides, the government will extend the free bus pass scheme to 591 more elderly Tamil scholars, he announced.

He said the free breakfast scheme for primary students had led to an increase in attendance between 10 and 30 per cent in schools. In the upcoming financial year, the government would construct classrooms, laboratories, and toilets at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore, he said.

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Despite accomplishments, the minister said “we are bracing for challenging times ahead” in view of unprecedented inflation, the continuing war in Ukraine, and volatility in the global economy and financial markets.

“We have outperformed by growing faster than the national average in the previous year and by significantly lowering the Revenue Deficit and Fiscal Deficit when compared to that of the Union government,” he said.