CM submits memorandum and White Paper on State's finces
New Delhi/ Guwahati, June 11: Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal met Prime Minister rendra Modi at his official 7 Race Course Road residence here today and submitted a memorandum and a White Paper on the State’s finces.
In the 25-minute discussion with the Prime Minister, the first after becoming Chief Minister, Sonowal pointed out the State’s precarious fincial condition with about Rs 10,000 crore committed liabilities inherited from the previous government. Sonowal said that while the State government has been shifting focus to augment interl resources without depending on the Central government alone, the State’s existing ‘precarious fincial position’ has necessitated special support from the Centre, more so during the transitiol phase.
The Chief Minister said that his government has been seriously trying to tap the inner strengths of the State within its limited capacity and resources to generate interl resources, attracting investments and building on core strengths. “Our government has decided to surge ahead with ‘Restructuring Systems and Technology for Augmentation of Resources for Transformed Assam’ (ReSTART Assam) to mop up maximum possible resources through a coordited and concerted mission mode programme with four-pronged action plan viz., ratiolizing revenue collection through reforms and restructuring of policy, legislations and administration; mobilizing additiol resources in a big way through Exterlly Aided Projects; focusing on institutiol reforms for improving public fince magement with stress on investments in critical sectors; and on large scale IT-ebled systems with ‘near-zero human interface’ and real time monitoring of revenue collection,” he said.
Pointing out that the time-bound action plan ‘would bear fruits only after 2-3 years’, the Chief Minister said in the interim period while there is a need to focus on development, the State needs about Rs 10,000 crore to honour the committed liabilities accumulated over a period of time and other liabilities arising out of pay revision of employees.
“Thinking big is the tural choice of our government to usher in ‘poribartan’ (change) in the lives of the people of Assam who have given us an unprecedented mandate,” Sonowal said.
The Chief Minister requested Prime Minister Modi for fincial assistance for infrastructure projects such as roads, river, power and IT as well as for the service sector.
“Our State would like to focus on developing multi-modal transport keeping Brahmaputra and Barak waterways as centre of design; four-lane roads connecting all district headquarters, hinterlands with markets across the borders; hydel (micro and mini), thermal and solar power plants so as to ensure 24X7 quality power supply; high speed broadband connectivity to each village and household; giving adequate thrust on tourism, BPO, industry and other associated employment-led service sectors; and in making Assam an organic hub,” he said, pleading with the Prime Minister for requisite fincial support over a period of five years to give a shot in the arm to the interl revenue generation efforts of the State government.
Sonowal requested the Prime Minister to release Rs 10,000 crore crude oil royalty due to the State and to use his good offices to ensure price of crude oil at pre-discounted rate, as in the case of Gujarat following an interim order of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Minister pleaded for early release of the Rs 1,226 crore the Ministry of Water Resources owes to the State under the Flood Magement Programme (AIBP-FMP).
Referring to the gaps in devolution of Central taxes and revenue deficit grants, Sonowal said while the 14th Fince Commission in its assessment of State resource stated it had taken into account ‘cost disability or fiscal capacity’ and made efforts to fill the gaps in resources, in reality its recommendations did not reflect the same, thus depriving Assam to a great extent.
“Assam has been deprived to a great extent, which has been evident from the fact that while the State was awarded a revenue deficit grant of only Rs 3,379 crore during 2015-20, smaller States like galand, Mizoram, Manipur, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir were rewarded handsomely by 14th Fince Commission,” he added. In this context, the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to allot Rs 5,000 crore annually as a ‘special one-time revenue deficit grant so that the State can take up development projects as envisaged in our Vision Document 2016-2025.’
Following the Chief Minister’s plea for one-time help and support to trigger generation of its interl revenues and to minimize the State’s dependence on the Centre for grants, Prime Minister Modi assured all help and support to the new government to bring a turround in the economy of the State.
After meeting the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Sonowal drove straight to Union Fince Minister Arun Jaitley’s official residence at 2, Krish Menon Marg and discussed a gamut of issues pertaining to the State’s present fincial position and the need for the Centre to come up with special assistance to help the State tide over the crisis. The Chief Minister submitted the White Paper on the State’s finces his government had brought out recently. Jaitley assured Sonowal of his ministry’s support and help to bail out the State from the fincial quagmire it finds itself in.
Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal also called on Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan in the tiol capital.