Justice Markandey Katju-
Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
After Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin, popularly known as MK Stalin took over as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, he has signed five orders.
They are :
Announcement of corona assistance of Rs 4000 per family. As a first instalment, ”The Chief Minister had signed an order to extend Rs 2,000 each to 2.07 crore rice cardholders at an expenditure of Rs 4,153.39 crore” for the month of May.
Slashing milk rates: As promised in his election manifesto, another order slashing milk rates by Rs 3 per litre in the state has been signed.
Besides, he also passed an order permitting women to travel in ordinary town buses free of cost. His statement said, “The government will bear the additional expenditure of Rs 1,200 crore as subsidy to the transport corporations.”
He announced that his government will bear all the expenses of the Covid patients in private hospitals. The State health insurance cover will bear the expenses of Covid treatment in private hospitals hereon, the Chief Minister said in an order. Presently, treatment at government hospitals is done free of cost. The order says that “Keeping in mind people’s welfare, with an intent of reducing their burden, the state will bear people’s medical expenses under the state insurance scheme. Accordingly, persons undergoing treatment in private hospitals for all kinds of COVID-19 related treatment can claim expenses under the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Insurance Scheme,” reads Chief Minister’s order.
He further announced that an exclusive department will be formed to address the grievances raised by the people before the elections, within 100 days of his government.
But where will the money for all this come from, Comrade Stalin? The Tamil Nadu Government is broke, as is evident from the following facts :
The interim Budget, presented by Tamil Nadu’s former Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam ahead of the Assembly election in the State, reflected the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the State’s finances.
Besides a wider-than-expected revenue deficit and fiscal deficit for 2020-21, the State’s debt is expected to cross Rs 5 lakh crore in 2021-22. The interim Budget forecasts an 18% decline in total revenue receipts to Rs1,80,700.62 crore for 2020-21 from the Budget estimates for 2020-21. As a result of the sharp deterioration in revenue receipts and the increase in expenditure in the revised estimates for 2020-21, the revenue deficit in 2020-21 is now estimated to be Rs65,994.06 crore — a big increase from the Rs 21,617.64 crores projected in the Budget estimates for 2020-21. The state government will find it difficult to even pay the interest on its existing loans.
So isn’t your announcement just a piece of demagoguery, moonshine, empty talk and poppycock?