The state budgets tabled by finance ministers are slowly becoming ledger papers losing their sheen, thanks to the suo motu 110 statements of chief ministers in the Assembly.
For the last three years, while the Chief Minister is following the footsteps of his mentor Jayalalithaa, the 110-announcements have become a menace eating into the rights reserved for the MLAs to raise queries on the subject, claims DMK legislator T Mano Thangaraj, who raised the issue during the recent budget discussion in the Assembly.
“As per the precedence of Assembly rules for 110-statements, the late chief ministers recorded only their political policies through statements and never made announcements with budget allocations. I have been raising this issue in the Assembly stating that the concept of 110-statement is defeating the purpose of an elected Assembly. There is no financial clarity to projects that are announced under Rule 110,” the opposition MLA charged.
He pointed out that for example, last year the Chief Minister, under Rule 110 announced the purchase of 2,000 new government busses. A similar announcement was also there in last budget by the Finance Minister. “Later, Transport Minister also made references about procuring busses. Buses are acquired in batches and this leads to confusions as three people comment on the same subject thus creating confusion,” the MLA explained. “It was Jayalalithaa who used ‘110’ provisions the maximum in the Assembly. The CM’s Rule 110 statements not only weaken the fundamentals of a budget, but it diffuses the concept of the democracy in the Assembly,” said political commentator R Mani. “Till 2011, the 110-statement provisions were limited in the Assembly, but it gained more popularity during the third regime of Jayalalithaa. I remember former finance ministers of both DMK and AIADMK announcing more schemes during the budgets,” he added.
Meanwhile, a state bureaucrat pointed out that while a state budget is the confidential record of state accounts, whereas 110-statements function in the reverse. “After the announcements, provisions are made through government orders and financial sanctions whereas budget is pre-planned with proper allocations,” explained a senior official who has served in the state finance department.
When contacted, an AIADMK spokesperson seeking anonymity said that the Opposition was raising the issue out of political animosity. “Either way, we cannot comment on Rule 110’s statements popularised by our leader former CM Amma (Jayalalithaa) as it has won the people’s mandate,” he noted.