Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam presented the state’s Budget for 2018-’19 in the Assembly on Thursday, projecting a revenue deficit of Rs 17,491 crore. He said the total revenue receipts in the 2018-’19 financial year were expected to be Rs 1,76,251 crore, while the expenditure would be Rs 1,93,742 crore, thus creating a deficit.

Panneerselvam, who also holds the state finance ministry, said that tax receipts in 2017-’18 had fallen substantially due to the reduction in commercial and state excise tax. However, he added that the revenue from the newly introduced Goods and Services Tax had helped the state stick to its target of lowering the fiscal deficit as a percentage of the Gross State Domestic Product from 4.14% in 2016-’17 to 2.82% in 2017-’18, The Times of India reported.

“The economy is slowly picking up, which is evident from the increase in Gross State Domestic Product growth rate in real terms, from 4.85% in 2012-’13 to 8.03% in 2017-’18,” The Indian Express quoted Panneerselvam as saying.

He said that the government expected its tax revenue to be Rs 1.12 lakh crore in 2018-’19 as against Rs 98,693 crore in 2017-’18. Revenue from the GST alone would account for Rs 86,859 crore, the finance minister said.

The Budget allocated Rs 27,205 crore for the school education department – the largest allocation for any sector. Of this, Rs 758 crore has been earmarked for providing laptops for school students, The Indian Express said.

Panneerselvam, without naming anybody, also attacked “critics” of the government, saying that they were indulging in “fallacious propaganda” against Dravidian rule in Tamil Nadu. He claimed that Tamil Nadu had done better on many economic and social indicators than states like Gujarat and Rajasthan in the last 50 years, NDTV reported.