TE Raja Simhan
The first 100 days of the DMK government were spent in tackling the pandemic. Chief Minister MK Stalin led from the front and ensured a single-minded focus in containing the virus and increasing the vaccination.
The government also fulfilled some of the promises made by DMK in its election manifesto. Price of milk was reduced by ₹3 per litre. Women were allowed free travel in ordinary fare government buses across the State and an assistance of ₹4,000 (paid in two instalments) as Covid relief was provided to each of the 2.07 crore rice ration card holders across the State. That apart, in the interim Budget, petrol prices were cut by ₹3 per litre.
Investor friendly Budget
It brought out a whitepaper on Tamil Nadu government finances that painted a grim picture of the State’s fiscal position. The government has promised to undertake ‘one in a generation’ reforms to restore the financial health. But the first Budget presented by the government on Friday failed to make a beginning. It neither had any reform nor revenue mobilisation measures. More subsidies meant that the State’s fiscal position has only worsened. Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan has promised that reforms will be undertaken once the effect of the pandemic is over.
However, the government has given priority to industrial development. It has announced a total investment commitment of ₹28,508 crore and employment opportunities for 83,482 persons from 49 projects across various sectors in the private sector since it took office. The Budget also has many initiatives that will make the State investor friendly.
The recently signed MoUs for investments in less than 75 days in office, shows the dynamism and farsighted approach to make Tamil Nadu the best place to invest in South Asia.
The launch of Single Window Portal 2.0 was another important initiative which had given much impetus to the ease of doing business initiatives of the government. CII will work towards achieving the Chief Minister’s vision in making Tamil Nadu a $1 trillion economy by 2030, he said.
Srivats Ram, President, Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said the in its first 100 days, the DMK government showed focus and responsibility across its administration in guiding the Sstate out of the second wave of Ccovid.
The Chief Minister has clearly articulated a 2030 vision for the State in terms of investment, employment and broad-based economic development of the State across the geography and across industry segments. There are frequent interactions with industry bodies and the Sstate has been progressive in promoting even new industry segments such as Fintech, he said.
Experts concur that Stalin has made every effort to ensure that the governance is smooth. Some even go to theat extent of praising him for his ‘Statesman’ like approach. His instruction to resolve people’s problem through the scheme of ‘chief minister at your ward’, will be a game changer as it will address a wide range of concerns, they add.
According to Tiruchi-based political analyst P Ramajayam, there is a paradigm shift taking place in the financial approach towards development – from simple populism to contemporary reasonable welfare. The social security and sectors like education, health and transport in which the DMK government is focusing with ‘extraordinary’ care as it was about to crumble due to privatisation, he said.
Sumanth Raman, a political analyst, says the first 100 days of the DMK Government has been a mixed bag. While some pre-poll promises have been fulfilled, several important ones remain. The abolition of the NEET exam, which the DMK had made a major pre-poll issue, does not seem feasible in the near future. The ₹1,000 each month for homemakers also seems to be likely only later.
The government also presented a separate agriculture Budget, where it articulated its vision of attaining food and nutritional security in the next 10 years.
While the first 100 days were smooth, the future looks challenging for the government, not just with the fear that a third wave is around the corner but also the precarious state of government finances as brought out by the whitepaper. The DMK government will have to eschew populism and undertake path-breaking reforms if it has to revive the State’s finances. That, for the party, may be tricky politically.