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Centre has given adequate funds to States: Chidambaram

By Our Special Correspondent

SALEM, APRIL 9. The Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, has asked the people not to believe the State Governments, which are claiming that they could not carry out development schemes due to poor allocation of funds.

``Do not believe these Governments which say that there is no money for development works. They, in fact, do not have the discipline, straightforwardness and administrative capacity to manage the allotted funds and carry out the works,'' he said.

Addressing a meeting here on the Budget, Mr. Chidambaram pointed out that the Centre had given adequate funds to all the States for their development activities.

Listing out the Centre's welfare schemes and programmes, he said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre, had provided a "new look and a fresh transformation" for the country. It had not only mooted various innovative schemes but also ensured that the benefits reached the people without fail. "No one can accuse us for any lapse," he said.

Focus on social sector

The rural and agri-specific approach had endeared the Government to the masses as never before. ``How long the rural people can remain patient to get their basic needs such as employment, education and healthcare,'' he asked. Hence the Budget had focussed more on the social sector with special reference to rural India through substantial increases in outlays.

The Minimum Employment Guarantee Scheme was supported by substantial increases in the Budget allocation. ``For the current year the allocation for it has been enhanced to Rs. 75,000 crores from Rs. 50,000 crores.'' The Minister pointed out that four crore farmers' families were given bank loans. Nearly 1.40 lakh students till December 2004 had received education loans among which 38,681 students in Tamil Nadu also benefited.

Loans for women

The Government was keen to extend loans to the women members of self-help groups (SHG), as they were prompt in repayment. ``The main objective of the Congress is that the benefits of these schemes should reach the women, farmers, students and small scale industries,'' he added.

He said the textile industry recovered following the withdrawal of CENVAT. Taxes on various goods also had been reduced and rationalised.

``We have earmarked more funds for all States and hence no State including Tamil Nadu could claim that they did not have money,'' he said.

The people should ask their Governments about how the money was spent. Citing an incident, he said that a group of farmers in Theni district in Tamil Nadu had written a letter to him saying that the desilting work of a village tank, for which the Centre had allotted Rs 1.85 crores, was not properly carried out. ``Such things should not be permitted,'' Mr. Chidambaram said.

Salem MP K.V. Thankgabalu, former MP R. Devadoss, Salem East district congress president R.R. Sekaran and urban president S.T. Panneerselvam participated.

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