CM flays Modi government for tightening purse strings
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 13: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday admitted that Assam still needs fincial assistance from the Central government as the State does not have sufficient resources. During the general discussion on the 2015-16 State budget in the Assembly, Gogoi voiced apprehension that the State will not be able to move faster on the growth path and the development graph might fall to some extent.
However, Gogoi claimed that Assam will never experience the “dark days” of 2001 even if the Central government does not provide sufficient fincial assistance to the State.
The Chief Minister said, “The annual budget of Assam cannot be compared to the budgets of resource-rich states. Most of the resource-rich states do not have problems like floods, land erosion and ethnic clashes, so these states can make faster progress in all spheres. But such problems exist in Assam. The condition of the State was worse in 2001 when we first came to power, but we have made progress since 2004.”
“Although the State’s overall growth rate is now higher than the all-India average, we are still dependent on Central assistance. When the UPA government came to power at the Centre in 2004, our share of Central assistance increased and we started a new journey. But with the decision of the present BJP government at the Centre to slash funds allocated for Assam, our growth rate is likely to decrease to some extent,” Gogoi said, adding, “The Central government gave us Rs 2,000 crore less allocation than what was awarded by the 14th Fince Commission. In the present fincial year, we received Rs 3,000 crore less from the Central government.”
Rejecting the contention of opposition parties that the 2015-16 State budget is populist, the Chief Minister said, “This budget is for poor people, farmers, weavers and persons like them. We have adopted Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy. We are for poor people.”
Taking a subtle dig at former Health and Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who yesterday indirectly criticized the State government for abandoning many earlier and popular schemes while praising states like Andhra Pradesh and Telenga for their progress, Gogoi said, “Comparing Assam with states like Andhra and Telenga is not a wise thing to do. Given the huge tax collection in these two states, we can judge how much resourceful they are. These states also have very low infant and materl mortality rates. But interestingly, a developed city like Hyderabad is also experiencing power cuts for four hours every day.”