GUWAHATI, June 4 - The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) has stressed the need for a planned economic movement to make the State self-reliant in production of essential commodities and decided to obtain the views of the experts in different fields including the Assam Agricultural University and prominent economists in this regard. The students� body has also called upon the Government to declare a special package for media houses as most of them are facing severe hardship due to the lockdown.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that the students� body has already started an initiative to revive the Assam Unnati Sabha, a body formed to work for the economic development of the State. He said that the students� body has sought guidance from the Assam Agricultural University. He said that the economy of the State must be revived and the pandemic has brought out the weaknesses to the fore. �We will have to use this opportunity to strengthen the economy of the State,� he added.
Bhattacharya said that the pandemic brought to light the fact that Assam has to depend on other states of the country for almost all the essential commodities. According to an estimate, Assam spends around Rs 6,000 crore annually only to import potato and around Rs 1,500 crore to import eggs. Similar is the situation in regard to other essentials and this trend must be reversed, he added. He said that during the Assam agitation, a movement to make youths self-reliant was also launched and that created a number of first generation entrepreneurs. But unfortunately, the momentum of the movement could not be maintained, he admitted.
On the economic package announced by the Government to tide over the crisis, Bhattacharya said that though a three month relaxation was given on loan repayment, it would not help much as the interests would keep adding up. He said that the Government should waive the interest of the loans for this period. He said that duty and tax relaxation should be given to the local entrepreneurs and electricity charges should be taken only on the power consumed. Steps should be taken to boost the cottage industries, he added.
The AASU has also demanded a special package for the media houses. Bhattacharya said that the media houses are playing a crucial role in dissemination of information during the COVID-19 crisis. But due to the lockdown, the advertisement flow has come down and the Government should announce a bailout package for the media.
AASU president Dipanka Nath and general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said that the Government must improve the credit-deposit ratio of the banks in this part of the country ,while, they also called for improving market linkage to the farmers.