Will confront PM if Centre reduces share for schemes, says Assam CM
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, May 15: Coming down heavily on the rendra Modi government at the Centre, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday said New Delhi is slowly but steadily putting fincial burden on all the Northeastern States including Assam, which are backward on many fronts.
Addressing reporters here on Friday, Gogoi expressed serious concern over the restructuring of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and drastic reduction in the allocation of funds for many important schemes in the State. “The announcements in the 2015-16 Union Budget have given us reasons to believe that the Central assistance to Assam will get reduced substantially,” he said.
Saying that announcements in the Union Budget hinted at change in the funding pattern of CSS which will adversely impact the State, the Chief Minister said, “As a result of this fund reduction, it will not be possible for the Assam government to implement many ongoing Central schemes in the State. Jobs of many people, who are working under different projects funded by these Central schemes, are likely to be threatened.”
Gogoi said the Assam government has requested continuance of the existing pattern of CSS funding, which may be 100 per cent funded by the Centre or in the ratio of 90:10 for special category States like Assam. “A flagship Central programme ICDS for example, has witnessed a 50 per cent reduction in allocation at the tiol level, which will have an effect in allocations to States, including Assam,” he added.
“I persolly do not want to get into any confrontation with Prime Minister rendra Modi. I am not against him persolly. If he continues to reduce the Central fund share, I will have no other options but to confront him on this issue as I have to keep the interests of my State in mind,” he said.
The Chief Minister made it clear that the Central government’s decision to hike the Central tax rate for Assam from 32 per cent to 42 per cent in no way compensates the fincial burden the State government is presently facing due to slash in Central funding. “To tackle the fincial crisis, we will now have to mobilize our own resources,” he added.
Gogoi said the Central government has allotted Rs 17,400 crore for Assam despite the 14th Fince Commission’s recommendation for providing the State Rs 19,180 crore. “Why was this done by the Central government?” Gogoi asked, adding, “Many of the Central schemes for which the funding has been reduced are meant for poor people.”
“The Assam government opposes any move by the Centre to discontinue any of the CSS further without consulting States on a scheme by scheme basis. More importantly, flagship programmes which are aimed at achieving very important socio-economic objectives, besides employing large number of people, should not be discontinued at all,” he said.
The Chief Minister said, “One one hand, many Central ministers are visiting the State and talking about development of the region and on the other, the Central government is reducing funds for different schemes.”
“The Assam Assembly accordingly passed the State budget with a proposed plan outlay of Rs 26,338.7 crore. However, the Union budget for 2015-16 has proposed a very drastic reduction in the allocation of funds for many important schemes,” Gogoi said.
Altogether 12 programmes including block grants like Special Plan Assistance, Normal Central Assistance, Backward Region Grant Fund, Special Central Assistance for Hill Areas, etc, which received budgetary support from the Centre till 2014-15, have now been completely delinked from Central support, Gogoi lamented.