OPS accused the Leader of Opposition MK Stalin who raised the issue during the Zero Hour in the form of a Special Motion drew the attention of the government to the ongoing stir by the JACTTO-GEO as instigating it.
Explaining the state’s policy of maintaining its finance books to keep expenditure within revenue receipts, Panneerselvam sought the support of everyone considering the state’s welfare burying all the differences. To drive home his point on the appeal, the Deputy CM observed that it was the teachers who taught everyone on as to how to strive for the welfare of the state in public life.
“They (Teachers) were the ones who also taught us several ethics such as limiting the expenditure within revenue receipts, observing discipline in public life and preserving the public welfare, among others. The Leader of Opposition should extend his support to the state’s cause,” he said.
Reeling out financial statistics, Panneerselvam said about 70 per cent of the state’s tax revenue was being spent on salaries and pension for government employees, including teachers (12 lakh employees and 7.42 lakh pensioners).
Delving further into state’s spending, he said, “About 24 per cent is spent on interest for loans secured to fund development work and only the remaining six per cent (along with the Central devolution of Rs 41,600 crore) is used for funding various welfare projects for the people.”
The Deputy CM noted that every responsible government employees were aware of the situation. “If the administrative expenditure is exceedingly high, it will not be possible to allocate funds for projects,” he said.
Referring to various benefits for the employees, he said the government has implemented increase in salaries (effective October 1, 2017, which entailed an additional expenditure of Rs 14,719 crore) and gratuity (to Rs 20 lakh from previous Rs 10 lakh) as per the recommendations of the 7th Pay commission.
While a panel has been set up with an IAS officer to look into the grievances of employees on pay anomalies, another committee set up to explore possibilities of reverting to the Old Pension Scheme is set to submit its report, he noted.
As for Stalin’s apprehension that the government should drop the Staff Rationalisation Committee proceedings, the Finance Minister said the Committee formed with retired IAS officer S Audiseshiah has been tasked to go into the possibilities of bringing down revenue expenditure and not to cut down the government staff. He assured that the government would consider everything that comes within its purview to meet the demands and sought the protesting employees to drop their stir.
When Stalin reiterated his charge that the government did not hold talks with protesters in Thoothukudi, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami replied that it was wrong to say that talks were not held on Thoothukudi issue.
“Talks were held for as many as 14 times by Thoothukudi district administration,” the CM said. He added that the government would consider the demands from the employees based on the recommendations from the respective panels.
Rs 11,000 cr allotted for assistance to self-help groups
The state has earmarked a credit outlay of Rs 11,000 crore for the women self-help groups for the current fiscal while it has breached the previous year target and achieved 119 per cent. This was revealed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in a suo-motu statement in the Assembly for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department and Municipal Administration and Water Supply grants. The CM said the state has fixed Rs 7,000 crore to empower women through institutional credit while the financial institutions has lent as much as Rs 8,332 crore for women Self-Help-Groups.
Sludge treatment plants proposed
Sewage sludge treatment plants would be set up in 49 municipalities to provide for 51 town panchayats and 59 panchayat unions, the Chief Minsiter said. As much as Rs 1,000 crore would be spent to renovate the existing UGS and water supply lines and roads ravaged by rains, and the scheme would cover an expanse of as much as 1,350 km. The state would set up 2.05 lakh septic tanks, both individual and community level, in rural areas at a cost of Rs 168.94 crore to prevent sewage from stagnating around borewells, overhead tanks, and other areas.