Specify wasteful welfare schemes: Panneerselvam asks opposition

Chennai : In a spirited defence of the government’s freebies and subsidies, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Wednesday challenged the opposition to specify those schemes that are wasteful.

Replying to the debate on the state’s budget for 2015-16, Panneerselvam, who also holds the finance portfolio, challenged the opposition to make a study of the subsidies and freebies and openly declare schemes that are wasteful.

Support TwoCircles

He asked how the money allocated for the welfare of poor, middle class, weavers and other sections of the society could be termed as “wasteful expenditure”.

It was the duty of the government to protect the standard of life of poor with its financial resources, he said.

“The inequalities cannot be removed merely by economic growth.”

He said when the inequalities arise, it is the government’s duty to protect the standard of life of the poor through welfare measures and subsidies out of its revenues.

Panneerselvam said a sum of Rs.59,185 crore has been allocated towards subsidies, freebies and welfare measures in the 2015-16 budget.

He said one should look at the schemes for which the allocations have been made.

Panneerselvam said Rs.5,300 crore has been allocated for food subsidy, Rs.7,136 crore for free power to agriculture, and Rs.4,206 crore for pension to poor.

As a result of the free rice scheme, there is no hunger in the state, he said.

Responding to the government’s decision to hike the milk prices, Panneerselvam said the total milk production in Tamil Nadu per day is 187 lakh litres, of which Aavin (state government undertaking) procures only 30 lakh litres a day.

He said those who benefit from low milk prices are the middle and affluent classes who buy the monthly milk cards.

Panneerselvam said Aavin sells per day 5.6 lakh litres of toned milk in Chennai at Rs.34 per litre whereas the private players sell the same variety at Rs.42-Rs.45 per litre.

The private players sell 11.25 lakh litres of milk of all varieties in Chennai.

He said if the milk’s procurement price is not hiked, the entire milk procurement in the state would be a monopoly of the private players.