Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has termed the Union Budget of 2016-17 as a “great disappointment” because it had virtually nothing for Assam and the Northeastern region as a whole.
“The allocation to the Northeast by Rs 4,000 crore has been minimal against the backdrop of flurry of promises made by central ministers including the Prime Minister amounting to tens of thousands of crores. The frequent visits of central ministers, including the Prime Minister to Assam have been primarily aimed at covering the failure of the central government and it has indulged in show business and fake assurances. The Budget is a testimony to all this,” Chief Minister Gogoi said in a statement here on Monday evening.
Gogoi said he had raised a number of important issues in a letter to the union finance minister for inclusion during the formulation of the Budget. “I had raised a number of important issues in a letter to finance minister Jaitley. They included restoration of Special Category Status and NEIIP, special packages for flood and erosion, development of the MSME sector, setting up of Brahmaputra Valley River Basin Authority, special packages for development councils, tea tribes and ex-tea tribes and steps for protection of one-horned rhino. But everything fell on deaf ears,” Gogoi said.
The Assam chief minister also regretted that the Budget had nothing for tackling the flood and erosion problem of Assam. “Though Assam has been plagued with this alarming erosion problem and it has so far permanently lost 4.27 lakh hectare of land due to river-bank erosion, the central government has announced nothing for the state,” he said. The Budget had not fully restored the earlier funding pattern to 90:10 despite strong protests from the Northeastern states, he added.
NE trade bodies happy
The Federation of Industry & Commerce, Northeastern Region (FINER) however has expressed happiness over the union budget, with it chairman RS Joshi terming it as an all-inclusive – “sabka budget” – that would also immensely benefit Assam and the Northeast. “As the outlay of rural sector has been sustainably enhanced, the economy of Northeastern states being largely rural economy will see a quantum jump in resource allotments region,” Joshi said.
Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, FICCI North East Advisory Council on the other hand said the Northeast would get increased funds for infrastructure development from the union budget. “We hope infrastructure requirements of the region will figure prominently in the increased infrastructure spend by the government. We particularly hope the issue of development of inland waterways, Northeast Ring Road and connectivity with neighbouring countries will be addressed. We also hope the states of the Northeast will be able to take advantage of the plan to operationalize the non-functioning airports,” Barthakur said.