By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Feb 1: With an eye on the assembly elections, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today announced a slew of sops while presenting a Rs 33,687.43 crore interim budget for the first six months of 2016-17 fincial year. The budget also stressed upon women welfare.
In the last budget speech of his government's third term, Gogoi flayed the Central government, saying there has been a fund crisis in the State resulting from abrupt changes in policy decisions initiated by the present NDA government in 2014, including abolition of the Planning Commission.
The CM said "curtailing of budgetary provisions in Centrally sponsored schemes, delinking of the ten ongoing Central schemes and changing of the funding pattern in some schemes" have been detrimental to the interests of the State's annual plan.
He sought more support from the Centre to tide over the State's fincial crisis.
Gogoi said the development of the State must be facilitated by the Central government "in the true spirit of cooperative federalism".
"We hope and expect that our State will get much needed support from the Central government in this regard," Gogoi said.
"Although Planning Commission has been replaced by NITI Aayog, which is stated to be a purely advisory body, it has failed to give clear cut guidelines to the States for preparing their annual plans. As a result, special category states like Assam have been facing serious problems of plan fund crisis," he said.
Among the Chief Minister's announcements were 10 per cent reservation for five years for over-age candidates in government jobs and 50 per cent reservation for women in government jobs. Nutritiol support to pregnt women under 'Mamoni' scheme will be increased to Rs 2,000 from the existing Rs 1,000. He also proposed a separate women's market for the benefit of women entrepreneurs.
Announcements made by the Chief Minister on New Year day have also been included in the budget.
The Chief Minister informed that the provisiol collection of sales tax till December 2015 stood at Rs 6,190.74 crore as against Rs 5,783.87 crore in the same period last fiscal.
"VAT collection of the department during 2014-15 was Rs 6,859.24 crore as against Rs 6,288.54 crore during 2013-14, showing an increase of Rs 570.70 crore," he added.
In the current fiscal up to November, the excise collection stood at Rs 463.66 crore, in addition to Rs 275.45 crore collected as liquor VAT, a rise of 13.84 per cent over the same period last fiscal.
Claiming "remarkable improvement" in the State's law and order scerio, Gogoi said after his government came to power, he initiated immediate action and revitalized the Unified Command Structure with focus on counter insurgency operation, peace initiatives and dialogue with willing insurgent groups, besides developmental initiatives with focus on employment generation and poverty reduction.
He proposed a package of Rs 1000 crore for uplift of tribal communities, people living in chars and chaporis, tea tribes and other economically, educatiolly and socially backward communities.
An amount of Rs 1000 crore has been announced under Assam Vikash Yoja for economic empowerment of all BPL families, with special focus on women and youth. Old-age pension will be extended to all BPL citizens.
Another Rs 1,000 crore has been announced for SC development.
Gogoi announced a high-level judicial panel to examine the status of tribal blocks and belts.
Assam Silk Outreach Mission will be undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 2,400 crore with a project period of 10 years.
A new Smart Village programme will be launched soon, the CM announced.
He also announced 50 per cent reservation for women in government jobs and development councils for various communities, including youth, disabled people, Kalitas, Brahmins, among others.
It was also announced to strengthen the Assam Water Mission to tackle flood and erosion problems more effectively, along with a Brahmaputra and Barak Land Reclamation Authority.
Rice under tiol Food Security Act will be made available at Rs 2 instead of Rs 3 per kg.
Gogoi also announced uniforms to school going students and free wi-fi connectivity in all colleges.
The daily wage of ATC garden workers has been enhanced to Rs 177 with effect from February 1.
The Chief Minister also announced a freedom fighters' memorial in the State, a separate education directorate for Bodos and tribal communities and the UN Brahma Cultural Research Centre at Guwahati.