Assam Budget : Himanta's acumen; Cong dubs it as imaginary - G Plus

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Assam Budget : Himanta's acumen; Cong dubs it as imaginary

GPlus | February 14, 2017 17:32 hrs

Every year the state budget is anxiously awaited for by all sections of people. The budget dictates how people of the state will be benefitted and what their tax liabilities will be. The state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had recently announced the budget for this year which has elicited mixed reactions from the people. G Plus tries to analyse the budget and gauge if the state is on the developmental path or if it is the normal case of old wine being served from a new bottle.  &n

bsp; How will the government generate revenue?   Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently presented a deficit budget of Rs 2,349.79 crores for the state for the financial year of 2017-18 and combined the plan and non-plan heads. Considering the budget estimates of the next fiscal only, the year will result in a projected deficit of Rs 367.19 crores, Sarma said in the Assembly while presenting the budget. On restructuring the budget, he said that the plan and non-plan heads have been merged and the estimates have been made through capital and revenue heads. He said that all employees who were earlier getting salaries from plan head will join those who were earlier drawing their salaries from non-plan and now all salaries are put under the head of establishment expenditure. Thus the systemic discrimination in the budgeting of salaries of some categories of employees has been drawn to a close with this budget and he happily announced that everyone will now receive their salaries and wages regularly.   Without levying any further tax, he proposed exemption of luxury tax to boost tourism and 50% exemption on entertainment tax on multiplexes and cinema halls for screening Assamese and regional language films. He also proposed to reduce cess on green tea leaf for small tea growers. Planning to boost the tourism sector, the state government has already launched a programme to encourage home-stays and during the budget he proposed exemption of luxury tax in respect of hotels, lodging houses and home-stays providing residential accommodation in rural areas.    Himanta said that price rise affects most people and many a times it is noticed that greedy traders hoard commodities which leads to price rise. To tackle the issue the government wants to strengthen the hands of Food and Civil Supplies department by providing a price stabilisation fund. A provision of Rs 150 crores has been made in the budget; the guidelines of the operation will be issued soon.    Certain provisions of the Assam Motor Vehicle Rules have been amended for the enhancement of revenue collection which includes restructuring of the fees for conductor license, duplicate driving license, inspection fee of vehicles on arrival at dealer point, registration permission of new vehicles etc. The government has introduced auctioning of fancy and choice registration marks while online dealer registration of vehicles has also been initiated.    To boost revenue generation in the environment and forest sector, 101 new areas have been identified for extraction of sand which is expected to fetch additional revenue of Rs 45 crores.    As the country is expected to implement GST from July, Sarma expressed that Assam will get a benefit of around Rs 300 crores every year in terms of GST compensation for some years. He also expressed that once the GST rule is implemented and stabilised the state government might gradually remove the check posts. Industry   The budget allocated Rs 433.50 crores to the industries and commerce department. The budget said that primary production centres are being proposed to be set up at point of production for primary processing of food and agricultural products. A unique craft policy will be announced shortly. The government will establish a high end handloom production centre. The government will organise a business summit called ‘Vivacious’ in the month of October or November with a budget of Rs 20 crores. The government also said that it will create an industrial land bank; a policy will be incorporated for providing land to industries transparently. There will be a separate department to ‘act east.’ Some more industrial announcements were also made in the budget.  Some other announcements One lakh youths to get loan of Rs 1 lakh each with 20% subsidy  Assam government to release arrears of employees with retrospective effect from April 2016 All government schools will be provided with LPG connections Interest free agriculture loan up to Rs 1 lakh for farmers 100 wooden bridges will be converted to concrete bridges Rs 5,000 will be offered to tea labourers in their accounts Rs 12,000 to the pregnant tea labourers There will be a wildlife court in Kaziranga Mobile ATMs to be provided in the hospitals 61,000 shallow tube wells will be provided to farmers  116 model hospitals to be established Rs 5,000 each will be provided to 4,50,000 specially-abled people for medication Insurance plan of Rs 2 lakhs announced for the poor families Medical colleges to be established in Nagaon, Dhubri and North Lakhimpur 40 mobile medical units will be provided for the help of tea labourers From next year Rs 1,000 will be given to all the specially-abled people for medication 7,000 TET teachers will be regularised There will be 4,000 new jobs in Assam Police Farmers having Kisan credit card will get Rs 3,000 as bonus There will be additional 5,013 jobs under the home department 1,000 HS passed poor girl students will be awarded scooties in remote areas Engineering colleges announced in Karimganj, Golaghat and Dhemaji Rs 10 crores to be given to Shankardev University  Rs 204 crores announced as scholarship to ST, SC and OBC students Kanaklata Mahila Sabalikaran Yojana to promote 1 lakh women SHG, and each to get Rs 5 lakhs 8 women colleges in minority dominated areas Another underground parking in Panbazar Every private school to teach regional languages properly till Class 8 under new education act Rs 200 crores for decorating skill city 18 seats reserved in medical colleges for the tea tribe students Rs 55.82 crores announced for science and IT sector Along with this, G Plus tries to put in perspective the gains that will accrue to Guwahati.  What will Guwahati get?   The finance minister said that the government is going to establish a separate authority – Assam State Capital Region Development Agency – which will work in coordination with the existing agencies like GMDA, GMC and other urban local bodies and Panchayats to transform Guwahati region into a large and vibrant metropolis. He said, “Guwahati is the only city in the entire state that has been seeing rapid growth and expansion. For the continued growth of the city and to prevent haphazard growth in outlying areas, a long-term plan and zoning is paramount. Keeping this in view, our visionary Hon’ble Chief Minister announced in his address on the last Independence Day that a State Capital Region will be established encompassing Guwahati and its neighbouring areas. In this regard, we have initiated the preparatory works and different city development models available in the country including the National Capital Region are being studied.” He said that the Assam State Capital Region Development Agency will work in coordination with the existing agencies like GMDA, GMC and other Urban Local bodies.” He said that the preparatory works for the ‘Guwahati Smart City Project’ have been initiated and an amount of Rs 189 crores as central share has been received. He announced Rs 400 crores in the current budget for this project. According to Sarma, laying emphasis on the expansion of the city to the north bank requires two bridges across the Brahmaputra - one connecting Panbazar to North Guwahati and another connecting Palasbari to Sualkuchi. He said that a global tender has been called for the consultancy works for the preparation of the DPR and he has allocated Rs 100 crores in this financial year for construction of these bridges. Once this project is completed, according to him, Guwahati city will expand. The Finance Minister said that to resolve solid waste management, Guwahati Jal Board would implement a sewerage project for a major portion of the city which should be completed by 2022. Also with announcements of one more underground parking lot Sarma gave his best shot at wooing Guwahatians this year. But some sections remained critical.  The critics   Congress chief spokesperson Apurba Bhattacharya, talking to G Plus said, “Assam budget is nothing but a sugar coated tablet to divert the attention of people from the main issues.” He questioned that without any resources is it possible for the government to implement the budget? He also said that no hope was provided in the budget to resolve the issue of unemployment and no special package was provided for the farmers as most of them are already victimised because of demonetisation. He questioned that while free scooties will be provided to poor girls how will they buy fuel? He said that it’s been more than one month and the government has not been able to provide books. That being the case, how will they fulfil all the promises made in the budget? He said this year’s budget is nothing but an imaginary budget.  “Assam budget is nothing but a sugar coated tablet to divert the attention of people from the main issues,” Apurba Bhattacharya, Congress spokesperson A city based CA, talking to G Plus in anonymity, said that no new tax policy has been announced as the GST implementation is at hand. So he felt it’s just a normal budget and there is nothing great about it.        While the budget may have been announced with many new schemes and hopes, the coming days will explain how effective the budget will be as implementation of the promises will decide it all.   Stay updated on the go with GPlus News. Click here to download the app for your device

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