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Assam fast entering a tough economic phase owing to coronavirus: Himanta Biswa Sarma


Government may be compelled to take hard decisions, warns Finance Minister


GUWAHATI: Assam is fast entering a tough economic phase owing to coronavirus, and the Government might be compelled to take several hard decisions, said State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the Assembly on Tuesday.

The Minister added, “My assurances given in the Budget comes with the caveat that things may be changed as we don’t know how the COVID crisis unfolds. Our MLAs will have to be prepared to change the budgetary allocations for the next year, if needed. Budget for Assam 2020-2021 may have to undergo change to meet the challenge.”

He further said, “If the situation arising from the COVID-19 impact does not get controlled within a limited period, I fear the future. I don’t have any answer to it.

“For instance, it will be rather problematic for the daily wage earners and also the tea garden labourers. The Tourism sector has been severely hit already.  Against this backdrop, our prime concern is to try and give some relief for the common people. But there are severe constraints.

“During this March-ending period of the ongoing fiscal, the government does not have adequate funds nor will we get funds from the Central government in April. Besides, we won’t be able to impose any tax. The coronavirus impact has already hit hard the economy. Hence, this is really a tough time for all of us.”

Dwelling on the possible steps that the State government can initiate, the Minister said, “The State government can deposit lump-sum money in the bank accounts of around 40 lakh people. Among them are the 35 lakh Ujjala account holders, 8 lakh tea labourers, 3 lakh daily wage earners, and 2.7 lakh registered construction workers.  Apart from these bank customers, I don’t know how the Government will be able to help the others.”

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