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Poll-oriented budget

The budget presented by Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for the first six months of 2021-2022 – Vote on Account because of the ensuing Assembly election

budget

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 Feb 2021 5:18 AM GMT

The budget presented by Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for the first six months of 2021-2022 – Vote on Account because of the ensuing Assembly election – is without any doubt an election-oriented budget. With only a few days left in between for the Election Commission to issue the notification for election which is in probability to be held in April, the incumbent government has no choice but to frame the budget keeping in mind every single voter. Even the Union budget for 2021-22, presented in Parliament a few days ago by Nirmala Sitharaman, had clearly kept the Assam elections in mind. That exactly was why the Union Budget had given several special considerations for Assam which Himanta Biswa Sarma highlighted in his budget speech in the State Assembly in Friday – 1,300 kilometres of additional national highway road infrastructure amounting to Rs. 34,000 crore, and a provision of Rs. 1000 crore for the welfare of tea garden workers (the latter amount however includes West Bengal, which is also going to the polls simultaneously with Assam). Additionally, the 15th Finance Commission has recommended Rs 20,601 crore as Assam's share in central taxes for the fiscal 2021-22. This includes a grant of Rs 1,075 crore for construction of an embankment-cum-road on the periphery of Majuli and Rs 300 crore for the comprehensive development of the Kamakhya temple. Furthermore, Sitharaman had also significantly enhanced the revenue deficit grant to states this year in the Union Budget which will boost Assam's finances even further. While it has been a practice the vote on accounts for six months in the backdrop of the ensuing election does not contain any fresh tax hike, the Sonowal government has done well with the State Cabinet deciding to withdraw the additional cess and taxes imposed during the Covid-19 period. Thus, prices of petrol and diesel have gone down by Rs 5 per litre with effect from Friday midnight which will directly and indirectly benefit lakhs of consumers across Assam. Similarly, the additional cess imposed on various liquor categories during last year, averaging around 25%, has also been withdrawn. The opposition, which has apparently lost momentum in the wake of serious leadership crisis in the Congress both at the national and state levels, had nothing significant to say about the budget, except for the routine "election-oriented" budget and "nothing-new-in-it" type words.

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