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The endless promises that are yet to be fulfilled

A year after riding back to power, the government has not fulfilled many pre-poll promises, such as free scooter schemes. While the Opposition says the financial mess is of the AIADMK’s own making, the ruling party claims the government is on track.

The endless promises that are yet to be fulfilled
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Chennai

In a state where it was once raining freebies, there is an acute drought of special projects now. The department created exclusively for implementing special projects, mainly “free of cost” schemes and social welfare department, which also executes flagship schemes, had not come out with a single announcement. 

Neither S P Velumani, Minister for Implementation of Special programmes, nor V Saroja, Social Welfare Minister, had anything significant to say when they presented policy notes for their departments last month in the Assembly. But for an elaborate mention of the ongoing free laptop schemes and statistics pertaining to ‘completed’ free mixer and fans schemes, plus the ongoing free thaali and maternity assistance schemes, the Ministers gave no update to cheer freebie-hungry voters, especially the subsidised scooter scheme for women it had promised in the poll manifesto. 

From paucity of funds and political will to internal wrangles in the AIADMK and lack of clarity on fixing eligibility criteria, the ruling dispensation seems to be hamstrung by a plethora of issues. According to government sources, the state government has yet to work out the modalities and eligibility criteria for the subsidised scooter scheme, for which GO was issued last February. Commenting on the government’s failure to deliver on promises, retired bureaucrat MG Devasahayam said termed the scheme a “blatant lie” to win the election last year. “You cannot expect this government to deliver. They have no money. It is unsurprising that the government had nothing to say on the schemes in the House. They have been struggling to even execute ongoing free schemes, which cost them Rs 1 lakh crore in the past.” 

Stating that people were aware that the government would not fulfill the schemes this time, Devasahayam said, “You don’t need tall leaders to implement schemes, all you need is money, which they do not have. Hence, they are mum on the flagship schemes now. They made a promise even after an unhappy Election commission of India (ECI) reprimanded them during election.” A bitter critic of freebies, the retired bureaucrat said, “In any case, freebie culture has to go. We must go for a realistic budget, which would help execute major schemes like desilting water bodies, which has not been taken up at all. The state is going to collapse on all fronts.” 

Seconding his view, economist and a former fellow of MIDS (Madras Institute of Development Studies) professor J Jayaranjan said, “The government is weak. It cannot take major decisions. Karunanidhi or Jayalalithaa would study the pulse of the people on ground everyday and plan schemes. Hence, the credit will go to them directly. Inevitability is keeping the new lot in power. They are unsure if they can even claim credit for freebies.” High on government’s agenda is ensuring stability of the government and securing seats in the long delayed local body elections, Jayaranjan said. “They do not have the people’s mandate. So, even bureaucrats are unwilling to take risks and therefore they are merely pushing routine files.” 

We will execute all schemes: AIADMK 

When DT Next contacted OS Manian, Minister of Handlooms and Textiles, he said, “Poll promises cannot be fulfilled overnight. If we had not delivered on our promises made in the 2011 poll manifesto, you can criticise us. We had delivered all promises made in that manifesto. The ongoing projects are being executed without any problem. We have five years to execute the schemes promised in the 2016 poll manifesto. They are five year projects. They will be executed. Indeed, the government has a lot of debt. Debt is the sign of a functioning government. What good is a government which keeps funds idle and does no work? We have debts because we implement a lot of welfare schemes. The Opposition has nothing concrete against us and therefore they are coming up with such flimsy excuses.” 

No Budget management post Jaya: DMK 

Investment banker turned Madurai (Central) MLA of DMK P T R Thiyagarajan said, “The real question is how did the state get into such a financial mess? I want to be apolitical. Budget was managed substantially when Jayalalithaa wielded control, till 2014. It changed only after her subsequent imprisonment. The deterioration points exactly to the day she went to jail. How are you surprised that they are not able to execute projects, when the CM is unable to manage his revenues? State’s own tax revenue fell from 10.5% of GSDP to 7%. A third of the revenue has gone away, but there is no scope of cutting the expenditure. You call it corruption or ineptitude in revenue generation, it is not a natural paucity of funds. The original interpretation of rule 110 is not limited to CM. When some time-sensitive information becomes available when the House is in session, the  minister has the duty to explain under 110 in the Assembly. 

Pending Promises

Rs 20,000 or 50% subsidy, whichever is higher, to working women to buy scooters.

Aavin milk price to be reduced to Rs 25 per litre, benefiting all consumers.

Free cellphones to ration card holders.

Govt to offer job opportunity to one member in a family.

Govt to pay education loan of unemployed youth.

Schemes delivered in 2016

Rs 5, 780 crore small and medium farm loans  waived. This was the first order issued by the late J Jayalalithaa when she assumed office as Chief Minister in May 2016.

Implemented 100-unit, free electricity to domestic users.

Free power to handloom and powerlooms increased to 200 and 750 units, respectively.

Closure of 500 TASMAC shops. Business hours of TASMAC outlets in the state reduced.

8-gram  gold for thaali  to educated women

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