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Budget aims at resurgent Assam: Finance Minister Ajanta Neog

Finance Minister Ajanta Neog told the Assam Legislative Assembly that ‘resurgent Assam’ was the mission behind the state’s Annual Budget for 2023–24.

Ajanta Neog

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  21 March 2023 3:05 AM GMT

‘This budget has 17% more allocation than the previous one’


GUWAHATI: Finance Minister Ajanta Neog told the Assam Legislative Assembly that ‘resurgent Assam’ was the mission behind the state’s Annual Budget for 2023–24. She also said that this budget has 17 percent more allocations than the annual Budget for 2022–23.

Neog presented her third budget in a row on March 16. The Budget proposals were the subject of general discussions for two days, on March 17 and 20, with the participation of 42 legislators from both benches.

Responding to general Budget discussion today, Neog said, “This is my third budget. I tried wholeheartedly to prepare the budget with poverty alleviation, the self-reliance of unemployed youths, and the eradication of inequality in society as the thrust areas. I thank the Leader of the Assam Assembly (the Chief Minister) for including a big scheme for the unemployed youths in this budget. We are following a specific goal. Some of our schemes are a matter of discussion in other states as well. We have prepared this budget with ‘resurgent Assam’ in mind to see Assam as one of the five most developed states in the country.”

Neog further said, “The government used the loan amounts in projects that help economic growth in the state to raise the GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product). This budget has 23 percent capital expenditure and only 15 percent revenue expenditure. This budget also has 17 percent more allocations than the 2022–23 annual Budget. During the discussion on the budget, a few Opposition MLAs said that the budget allocated amounts to the departments that were less than those in the previous budget. I want to make it clear that the Agriculture Department got 19 percent more allocation than the previous budget. The fund allocation for the Education Department increased by 54 percent, highest ever since independence. The budget has allocated Rs 2,500 crore for the development of infrastructure for 500 schools. Since the Education department does not do construction works, we have allocated the amount in the PWD.”

She said, “The Opposition said that this budget is not a realistic one. However, I tried to present a realistic budget. The collection of tax revenue has gone up by 33 percent when compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year. I prepared this budget anticipating that the tax revenue collection would increase by 24 percent so as to make the budget realistic. We have also tried to make the income match the expenditure. Under the 90:10 funding pattern, the state had to forfeit 90 percent of central funds just by not being able to release the 10 percent matching state share in central sector schemes. We are placing great stress on not forfeiting a single penny of the central fund. We will take 100 percent of the central allocation and have submitted 100 percent utilization certificates against central sector schemes. We have no fiscal deficit. We have not violated the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act in the past two years. In the financial year 2021–2022, Rs 1.06 lakh crore was spent up to March 31, 2022. In the current fiscal year, we have spent Rs 1.08 lakh crore so far. The expenditure will go up by March 31, 2023.”

Replying to the opposition’s criticism of the government for taking more loans, Neog said, “We know well how much loan we can take. We are at our limit. Economic development takes place in the state in various sectors. It augurs well that the youths in the state are evincing interest in agriculture. We are exporting agricultural products from the state now. A section of people in upper Assam were reluctant to practice paddy cultivation earlier. However, since the farmers get remunerative prices for their products, the farmers of upper Assam have shown interest in farming paddy now.”

Also Read: Assam’s Annual Budget: Prioritizing infrastructure and self-employment

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