Talking tough, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalatlithaa accused the UPA government of trying to undermine the federal structure by implementing direct benefit transfer (DBT) without consulting the states and arbitrarily cutting plan expenditure even as state police had Yojana Bhawan under siege for her meeting with Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday.
As she was to arrive, the plan panel debarred journalists except from Jaya TV from entering the bhawan, and prepared itself for an expected onslaught from her.
The panel provided the entire break-up of the state annual plan of Rs 37,128 crore for 2013-14 including the central assistance of Rs 3,165 crore.
It also said in addition the Centre would provide Rs 9,000 crore through centrally sponsored scheme in a bid to deflate her criticism that the Central government gave “peanuts” to Tamil Nadu.
Jayalalithaa offer different criticism by accusing the Planning Commission of shunning its “advisory” and allocation role and “don executive” role.
This criticism was specifically related the panel being nodal office for implementation of the UPA’s ambitious scheme direct benefit transfer, which Tamil Nadu has refused to apply.
The AIADMK leader accused the Centre of “unfriendly measures” causing hardship to the poor by repeated increase in diesel prices, removal of levy on sugar and reduction of kerosene for the state. She also expressed her reservations on certain provisions of the proposed National Food Security Bill.
She also took on Finance Minister P Chidambaram, an MP from Tamil Nadu, saying that 20% cut in plan expenditure in 2012-13 was not in line with the promises made.
“Announcing huge allocations and subsequently reducing them, not only undermines the entire planning and budgetary process, but also impacts implementation of the schemes,” she said.
She described the DBT as the Centre’s attempt to thrust ill-conceived schemes on states despite protest and said it was an attempt of executive overreach by the Centre to insidiously bypass the state governments.
She suggested that the Centre should leave disbursement of money to the states and have a rigorous monitoring mechanism to foster implementation of DBT.
The panel, however, adopted a cautious approach and said the state growth has decelerated like rest of the country from 7.3% to 4.6% and was slightly lower than the national average of 5%. The panel appreciated the efforts of the state government on improving social sector indicators.