TN govt to integrate, mine data to gauge citizens’ economic status

The Tamil Nadu government will link all its available data sources to understand the true economic status of all citizens and households to improve subsidy delivery, Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan said on Friday.

Presenting his first budget, he said: “The lack of adequate beneficiary data is the fundamental limitation in our government’s ability to efficiently implement welfare schemes in order to improve social and economic justice.”

“A cross-departmental initiative to link all available government data sources to better understand the true economic status of all citizens and households will be undertaken. This foundational effort which will help improve the delivery of many tens of thousands of crores worth of subsidies,” he added.

Pointing out what cannot be measured cannot be improved, Rajan said the government will implement smart metering for all public utilities in the State.

As a part of data-centric governance, he said E-procurement will be mandatorily adopted across all procuring entities. A separate E-procurement portal will be created for the state government to enhance transparency in procurement.

The entire workflow process of all engineering departments including updated standard data book and schedule of rates, planning and design, estimate preparation, tendering, measurement of works, payment of bills and recording completion will be fully electronically enabled to increase efficiency and transparency.

With over 2.05 lakh hectares of state government land encroached, an advanced Government Land Management System, which will contain full details of all government lands, will be created in order to improve management of the public land. This will prevent the state’s assets from being used inefficiently, misused, or even diverted, Rajan said.

According to him, a Litigation Risk Management System will be established which will monitor all high-risk litigations relating to taxation, land matters, personnel matters and procurement issues to ensure that the public interest is effectively protected, and resources accrue to the government without delay.

“The Litigation Management System will be overseen by an experienced team of retired judges and senior legal experts,” he said.

Rajan also said multiple data points indicate that government funds are often shifted to accounts outside the view of the treasury system.

“Upon assuming office, this government initiated a dual-track survey to identify such funds – through government departments and agencies and by banks holding such accounts. The initial assessment reveals substantial unutilised funds,” he said.

The government will establish a special task group under a senior officer of the Finance Department to fully reconcile the accounts and identify funds which have lapsed and which can still be utilised, Rajan said.

He said all Audit Departments functioning in the government will be brought under the Finance Department and be integrated seamlessly to ensure that internal audit functions are effectively carried out across all Government departments and agencies.