From Sandeep Sharma
GUWAHATI: A day after finance minister Ajanta Neog tabled the state budget for 2021-22 in the state assembly, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora on Saturday dubbed it as ‘history’s most fraudulent budget’.
“The budget has nothing new for the people suffering from abnormal price rise, youth wrecked by unemployment and people hit by Covid- 19,” said Ripun Bora in a press statement,” Bora said addressing a press conference here in Rajiv Bhawan on Saturday.
“The budget comprises ornamental words, uses references to Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, Lakshminath Bezbaruah and Hiren Bhattacharya, whose writings are considered as symbols of Assamese self-respect, including Srimanta Sankardev’s devotional writings and Sanskrit shlokas from Vedas. The budget attempted to make a bank friend, cattle friend, agriculture friend and livelihood friend,” Bora said.
“The budget contains allocation of funds and new schemes but it remains to be seen how much will be realized. It shows income from state taxes as Rs 21177.55 crores and share of central taxes as Rs 20818.82 crores. The centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) funds are shown as Rs 26013.09 crore and finance commission’s layout of Rs 11508.65 crore,” Bora said.
“But it has been seen that during the financial years 2019- 20 and 2020- 21, Assam did not get the funds that were due to the state. Only a small amount was received from the Centre. Assam’s GST share of Rs 80,000 crore is yet to be released, while the funds allocated by the Finance Commission were not received,” he said.
“According to the Reserve bank, the financial situation of the Centre is poor owing to the Covid pandemic. Hence it is doubtful that funds from the Centre would be forthcoming. Assam’s tax collection has also suffered from the pandemic and receipts have decreased. So, the tax collection envisaged in the budget will not be realized and the budget is bound to fail,” he said.
It is mentioned in the budget that salaries, pension and interest would cost the state Rs 51,000 crore. During this financial year, the state government would earn 1 lakh 7 thousand crore. Deducting Rs 51,000 crore in the heads of salary, pension and interest will leave an amount of Rs 56,000 crore. How will the government manage to keep the other promises after spending from Rs 56,000 crore of giving appointments to 1 lakh unemployed? Therefore, we demand that the government publish a white paper on this subject,” he asked.
“The state government’s borrowing till the time of the Tarun Gogoi government in 2016 stood at Rs 35,000 crore which includes the terms of late CM Hiteswar Saikia and also Prafulla Mahanta. But the BJP Government’s borrowing alone in the last five years itself is Rs 47,000 crore and it has led to a credit load of Rs 82,000 crores. The interest on the amount payable this year will be Rs 6,500 crores. It remains to be seen with what magic powers the CM will fulfil all the promises in the budget without any earning,” he said.
“The pandemic has led to loss of livelihood of the unorganized sector working class like rickshaw pullers, auto drivers, private car drivers, daily wage labourers, footpath vendors and small businessmen, carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers, barbers, washermen, tailors, mobile theatre artistes and employees, vegetable sellers and fish sellers and others. These people are suffering but there is no relief for them in the budget. Not a single word has been uttered to give relief to these people hard hit by pandemic and price rise in the budget,” he further said.
“There is no mention in the budget for controlling the abnormal price hike of petrol- diesel- cooking gas and life saving medicines that is crippling the common man. No mention of price regulation measures in the budget reflects the Government’s callousness towards the existence of the lower income group and middle income group of the society,” he added.