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Tamil Nadu will seek Rs. 8,001-crore plan outlay

By S. Vydhianathan

CHENNAI, FEB. 4. "Tamil Nadu will be approaching the Planning Commission for approval of an enhanced development plan outlay of Rs. 8,001 crores for the next financial year as against the current year's outlay of Rs. 7,000 crores," the Governor, P.S. Ramamohan Rao, said today.

Addressing the Assembly on the first day of this year's session, he said economic reform programmes, implemented with resolve and courage, enabled the Government to increase the current year's plan size to Rs 7,000 crores from Rs 5,200 crores in 2001-02 and the State was confident of achieving the current year's plan outlay.

Describing the State's fiscal turnaround as "nothing short of a miracle," the Governor said the problem of unpaid liabilities, amounting to Rs. 4,000 crores, inherited from the previous government, had been resolved and financial stability was restored to public utilities such as the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and State transport undertakings.

"Tamil Nadu has been forging ahead towards number one position in the country by successfully integrating reform priorities with development imperatives, besides keeping the interest of the poor uppermost."

This resulted in the World Bank evincing a keen interest in assisting the State in putting through its economic reform programmes. It was anticipated that funding support from the Bank for these programmes would be made available over several years, in addition to its project-based assistance.

The Government had implemented welfare measures for various sections who were in the lower echelons of society. Be they farmers, agricultural labourers, handloom weavers or fishermen, it came to their rescue in times of crisis.

The Government's initiatives helped to clear Rs. 34.91 crores in arrears to dairy farmers and Rs. 123.74 crores to sugarcane farmers. The free dhoti and saree scheme to the poor and old-age pensioners provided continuous employment to handloom weavers. About 30,000 fishermen were covered for the first time under the savings-cum-relief scheme launched on an outlay of Rs 1.73 crores. The Government was also providing them 10,000 life saving jackets at a cost of Rs. 1 crore.

The Governor noted that Information Technology had become the "key driver of the services sector." With exports crossing $1.4 billion (Rs. 7,000 crores) and over 1000 IT export companies, this sector held promise in terms of new opportunities. The State was rated the "leader" in the `e-Readiness Report 2003.'

The entire Opposition, except the Bharatiya Janata Party, staged a walkout before the Governor's address.

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