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CM enthuses over budget, Opposition unimpressed

Himanta pins hope on getting additiol Rs 7,000 crore as oil royalty to adjust revenue deficit


GUWAHATI, Feb 7: The ruling BJP has termed the State Budget, 2017-18 as a budget of ‘hope and change’, even as the Opposition dubbed it nothing but ‘empty gimmickry’. Enthusing over the first full budget of his government, Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal said that the ‘wonderful budget’ has touched all segments of the society.

“This is a wonderful budget presented to serve the interests of all sections of people. It has touched every segment of society from Barak to Brahmaputra valley.  This budget is pro-farmer, pro-tea worker and small tea growers, pro-women, pro-unemployed youths and students — and it has something for every section of society,” said Sonowal.

The Chief Minister said that the budget will help propel the State towards development. “We want the people’s support for implementation of schemes proposed in the budget. The government will make every effort for implementation of the budget proposals. We hope the MLAs will extend their full support and ministers work hard for its implementation,” Sonowal added.

He said that the budget goes with the motto ‘Saabka Saath Saabka Vikas’ and has been prepared with utmost honesty and sincerity.

AGP president and Agriculture minister Atul Bora said the budget has touched every segment from agriculture, health, education, women and children to unemployment.

“The commitment of this government towards the people has been reflected in the budget. It would help in upliftment of the society,” Bora added.

State Forest minster and BPF MLA Pramila Rani Brahma said, “This is an excellent budget. It will help take development of the State to a new scale.”

Fince minister Himanta Biswa Sarma emphasized that he has tried to avoid imposing new taxes as much as possible.

“We are trying to get crude oil royalty like the Gujarat government did. If everything goes well, we will get an additiol Rs 7,000 crore as oil royalty. With this amount, we will be able to adjust our revenue deficit,” Sarma said.

The minister said that the State government has not adopted any appeasement policy in the budget.

“Equal importance has been given to all, irrespective of majority or minority, and the budget seeks to reflect the promises made in the party’s vision document,” Sarma added.

Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, on the other hand, termed the budget nothing but ‘hollow gimmickry’.

“The possibility of implementing such a budget is very low. When promises are made beyond limit, then the budget cannot be said to be a practical budget,” Gogoi said.

“During our time, the economy of the State had maintained a rising trend, but now it has slowed down. Moreover, there is no indication in the budget about the effect on the State’s economy post-demonetization,” he pointed out.

Gogoi further commented that many schemes adopted by his government have now been proposed again in the budget with new colour.

Casting doubt over the Fince minister’s proposal of depositing Rs 5,000 in bank accounts of tea workers, Gogoi quipped: “Will it really materialize? Or it will its fate be similar to Prime Minister rendra Modi’s promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh in the bank account of every Indian citizen?”

AIUDF legislator Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Qasimi said there is nothing in the budget for minorities. “Except declaring some women’s colleges, there is nothing substantial in the budget for the minority community,” Qasimi said.