FROM A CORRESPONDENT
SHILLONG, March 20: Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma today said that the 2017-18 Budget was a balanced and realistic and one that will be able to meet the aspirations of particularly the poor, the rural people, the youths and the job seekers.
Replying to the debate on the Budget, Dr Sangma said, “This Budget has set a new benchmark that the state requires.”
He said that the Government, although being an election year avoided presenting a populist Budget.
According to the Chief Minister, the Budget is inclusive and has taken care of developmental gaps and it will set a yardstick for future prospects and prosperity of the state.
Dr Sangma while, refuting the claims of the opposition that the Budget has failed to adhere to conditions laid down by FRBM Act in terms fiscal deficit.
“The fact that Meghalaya is getting funds under Externally Aided Projects stands testimony of the fiscal health of Meghalaya,” the Chief Minister said.
Dr Sangma also said that the issue of debt and debt servicing is regulated and when the state borrows it cannot be done whimsically.
The Chief Minister also pointed out that the year 2016-17 is a crucial year for the state because it is the base wherein the Centre will look at what are the revenue available with the state prior to implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Dr Sangma also informed that the state government has set the ball rolling by setting up of a Corpus fund to disburse payments of salaries to job card holders under MGNRGES and also for scholarships to students in case there is delay in releasing of funds by the Centre.
On the tourism front, the Chief Minister informed that last year seven lakh domestic and 7000 foreign tourists visited the state even as he called for the need to promote high end tourism.
“High end tourism will generate huge revenue for the state,” Dr Sangma said. Earlier, taking part in the debate on the Budget, United Democratic Party (UDP) legislator from West Shillong, Paul Lyngdoh said that the speech was a rehash of the last four year’s Budget.
“I am concern over the fact that members on the floor of the House expressed their lack of confidence in the system and in its ability and credibility to deliver,” Lyngdoh said.
The UDP legislator from West Shillong pointed out to MLAs threatening to knock on the doors of their judiciary or pray to God to get their problems solved.
“If MLAs threatens to go to the judiciary or turn to God to solve their problems this shows that we are losing faith in the system,” Lyngdoh said.
The UDP legislator also pointed out that education system in the state is flawed and it needs to be revamped. Lyngdoh said that today the system is encouraging “learning by rote”.