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Budget election-oriented, says Opposition

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 7 - Opposition Congress today said the populist schemes announced in the Assam Budget 2019-20 have been designed to give �only political benefits� ahead of the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia, while initiating the budget discussion on the floor of the State Legislative Assembly, said that the budget reflected lots of misplaced priorities ignoring the need for overall development.

Stressing that the government failed to adequately address the unemployment problem of the State in the budget, Saikia said that people had expected the government to allocate more funds for crucial issues like unemployment and problems faced by farmers.

�For the people expecting some sort of parivartan (change) from this government, the budget brought disappointment because of its vote-centric nature. If the best of the schemes on paper are not implemented on the ground, it won�t serve the purpose,� Saikia said.

�The government intends to cover six lakh farmers under the Chief Minister�s Sah Sajuli Yojana during the next fiscal. But, quality of seeds provided to our farmers is still a major issue. Unless the poor farmers of the State get good quality affordable seeds, even best of the equipment won�t get them a good yield,� he said.

Inadequate provisions for compensation to the flood-affected farmers, infrastructure development and improving teacher-student ratio in the State also came in for criticism from the Congress leader. �Further, the proposed express highway along both banks of the Brahmaputra river did not find any mention in the budget this time. Similarly, no allocation was made for improving the Assam Women�s University, Jorhat.

�We need to ponder whether we need schemes for giving gold in marriages or some measures for cutting down the prices of day-to-day essential items,� he added.

Criticising the budget, AIUDF legislator MI Haque Choudhury said that many of the announcements made in the budget lacked substance and were in fact an eyewash.

�The announcement by the Finance Minister that allocation for old-age pension has been doubled drew loud applause. But, the reality is that the old-age pension is still a meagre Rs 250, which is actually an insult to the elderly. Even the Andaman government provides a monthly pension of Rs 2,000 to the elderly while our neighbour Arunachal has a monthly old-age pension of Rs 1,000,� he said.

Accusing the government of doing little to ameliorate the plight of the vulnerable sections like unorganised domestic workers and unskilled labourers, who need some meaningful social security schemes, Haq said the relevant Central legislation and the State scheme were implemented poorly in the State.

Choudhury said the government had backtracked on its promise of a pollution-free State � something borne out by the growing air and water pollution levels in State capital Guwahati and elsewhere.

Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha of the Congress said the government had failed to fulfil its promises made earlier and was now resorting to populist announcements bereft of substance. �It has failed to generate even a fraction of the jobs it had promised. The much-hyped �Advantage Assam� has not drawn any investment to the State,� he said.

Rupjyoti Kurmi, another Congress legislator, accused the government of according a red carpet welcome to illegal Bangladeshi migrants even as it had used Bangladeshi deportation as a major poll plank.

�All other north-eastern governments have taken a strong stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the interest of the indigenous people, but the Assam government is doing the opposite,� he said.

On the budget announcement of providing free sugar to tea garden workers, Kurmi said it would send out a wrong perception as �the tea workers are not so na�ve as to be drinking salted tea and damaging their health.�

Participating in the discussion, BJP MLA Ashok Singhal said that those calling the budget an election-oriented one need to go through the entire budget once more to have a fair analysis.

�The E-budget presented on the floor of the House yesterday is a true reflection of the resurgent Assam,� he added.

Singhal added that this year�s budget made a 21.5 per cent sum allocation for the education sector, which is approximately five per cent higher than the average fund allocated by all the states of the country during the 2018-19 fiscal in the education sector.

�Similarly, in the health sector 7.4 per cent allocation has been made. In rural development also, the fund allocation is higher than the national average of 2018-19. Be it roads or bridges, or assistance to the students, the State government is working for inclusive growth. Just because we have an election coming up, the budget cannot be categorised as a poll-centric one,� Singhal stressed.

BPF legislator Rabiram Narzary defended the budget, saying it reflected the genuine hopes and aspirations of the masses.

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Budget election-oriented, says Opposition

GUWAHATI, Feb 7 - Opposition Congress today said the populist schemes announced in the Assam Budget 2019-20 have been designed to give �only political benefits� ahead of the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia, while initiating the budget discussion on the floor of the State Legislative Assembly, said that the budget reflected lots of misplaced priorities ignoring the need for overall development.

Stressing that the government failed to adequately address the unemployment problem of the State in the budget, Saikia said that people had expected the government to allocate more funds for crucial issues like unemployment and problems faced by farmers.

�For the people expecting some sort of parivartan (change) from this government, the budget brought disappointment because of its vote-centric nature. If the best of the schemes on paper are not implemented on the ground, it won�t serve the purpose,� Saikia said.

�The government intends to cover six lakh farmers under the Chief Minister�s Sah Sajuli Yojana during the next fiscal. But, quality of seeds provided to our farmers is still a major issue. Unless the poor farmers of the State get good quality affordable seeds, even best of the equipment won�t get them a good yield,� he said.

Inadequate provisions for compensation to the flood-affected farmers, infrastructure development and improving teacher-student ratio in the State also came in for criticism from the Congress leader. �Further, the proposed express highway along both banks of the Brahmaputra river did not find any mention in the budget this time. Similarly, no allocation was made for improving the Assam Women�s University, Jorhat.

�We need to ponder whether we need schemes for giving gold in marriages or some measures for cutting down the prices of day-to-day essential items,� he added.

Criticising the budget, AIUDF legislator MI Haque Choudhury said that many of the announcements made in the budget lacked substance and were in fact an eyewash.

�The announcement by the Finance Minister that allocation for old-age pension has been doubled drew loud applause. But, the reality is that the old-age pension is still a meagre Rs 250, which is actually an insult to the elderly. Even the Andaman government provides a monthly pension of Rs 2,000 to the elderly while our neighbour Arunachal has a monthly old-age pension of Rs 1,000,� he said.

Accusing the government of doing little to ameliorate the plight of the vulnerable sections like unorganised domestic workers and unskilled labourers, who need some meaningful social security schemes, Haq said the relevant Central legislation and the State scheme were implemented poorly in the State.

Choudhury said the government had backtracked on its promise of a pollution-free State � something borne out by the growing air and water pollution levels in State capital Guwahati and elsewhere.

Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha of the Congress said the government had failed to fulfil its promises made earlier and was now resorting to populist announcements bereft of substance. �It has failed to generate even a fraction of the jobs it had promised. The much-hyped �Advantage Assam� has not drawn any investment to the State,� he said.

Rupjyoti Kurmi, another Congress legislator, accused the government of according a red carpet welcome to illegal Bangladeshi migrants even as it had used Bangladeshi deportation as a major poll plank.

�All other north-eastern governments have taken a strong stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the interest of the indigenous people, but the Assam government is doing the opposite,� he said.

On the budget announcement of providing free sugar to tea garden workers, Kurmi said it would send out a wrong perception as �the tea workers are not so na�ve as to be drinking salted tea and damaging their health.�

Participating in the discussion, BJP MLA Ashok Singhal said that those calling the budget an election-oriented one need to go through the entire budget once more to have a fair analysis.

�The E-budget presented on the floor of the House yesterday is a true reflection of the resurgent Assam,� he added.

Singhal added that this year�s budget made a 21.5 per cent sum allocation for the education sector, which is approximately five per cent higher than the average fund allocated by all the states of the country during the 2018-19 fiscal in the education sector.

�Similarly, in the health sector 7.4 per cent allocation has been made. In rural development also, the fund allocation is higher than the national average of 2018-19. Be it roads or bridges, or assistance to the students, the State government is working for inclusive growth. Just because we have an election coming up, the budget cannot be categorised as a poll-centric one,� Singhal stressed.

BPF legislator Rabiram Narzary defended the budget, saying it reflected the genuine hopes and aspirations of the masses.

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