GUWAHATI, July 13 � The Opposition today described the State Budget presented by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on July 11 for the 2011-12 fiscal as a financial document that �lacks insight.� The Budget has failed to provide a roadmap of development for the basic sectors like agriculture and industry, they alleged. However, members of the Treasury Bench defended the Budget as a prudent and development-oriented document.
Taking part in the debate on the Budget, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) leader Sirajuddin Ajmal said that the Chief Minister's welfare schemes like the blankets and rice at cheaper prices, which gave the Congress a thumping majority in the Assembly, have failed to feature in the Budget.
These welfare schemes of the Chief Minister also exposed the hollowness of the government's claim that the State has progressed under it. As, he said, the �people are so poor that they cannot afford a blanket or rice.�
He alleged that the claim of the government of higher production in the agricultural sector as baseless.
He pleaded for allocation of Rs 300 crore for the development of the minorities and Rs 100 crore for the development of the tea tribes.
He alleged that the government has failed to check spiraling prices of food grains, fruits and vegetables etc.
Taking part in the debate, Keshav Mahanta of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) alleged that the Budget is conspicuously silent on irrigation and power availability. These are the two basic things the farmers are dependent on for enhancement of yield of their crops, he said.
Further, he said, the State lacks a seed certification system and the government has not done anything to insure the crops of the farmers against calamities.
However, Maneswar Brahma of the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) claimed that the fiscal policies of the government have been accelerating the State's growth process. All sectors have been showing the signs of improvement and even the power sector is also improving. The agriculture sector has registered much progress, he added.
However, the BPF legislator was remorseful of the �inadequate� budgetary allocation for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and called for allocation of an additional fund of Rs 500 crore for facilitating all-round development of the area.
Brahma further stressed the need for withdrawing the pending cases against former BLT rebels for their proper rehabilitation.
Ranjit Das (BJP), while expressing concern over the mounting per capita debt on the people, made a strong pitch for spreading education to rural and other backward areas, especially the chars and tea tribe-inhabited areas.
Das said that the allocation for education at a meagre .48 per cent was too little to be of any real value vis-�-vis the huge challenges confronting the sector.
Jayanta Malla Buzarbaruah (Congress) termed the Budget as growth-oriented, and said that it had many novelties that would propel the State into the orbit of development.
Buzarbaruah, however, expressed dissatisfaction over what he said was 'thikadar-raj' which was preventing sincere and time-bound implementation of various development schemes including rural road projects under PMGSY, and called for streamlining the system.
Pijush Hazarika (Congress) said that the Budget laid adequate thrust on a number of critical areas of development such as agriculture and irrigation, health, education, power, etc.
Making a strong pitch for power generation through big dams, Hazarika said that with proper safeguards for downstream areas, it was possible to generate electricity which was a must for industrialization.
AB Majharbhuyan (AIUDF), while criticizing the Budget for not being �people-friendly�, said that it was devoid of any novelty that could address some of the pressing concerns of the people. He also said that unprecedented corruption was effectively distancing a vast majority of people from the fruits of development.
Debabrata Saikia (Congress), while hailing the Budget as a prudent exercise, said that it had provisions for developing the border areas in terms of road communication, drinking water, etc., which had been a long-standing need in those backward areas.
Emphasizing on the role of agriculture, Saikia said that increasing agricultural yield was critical to checking the phenomenon of abnormal price rise.
Sushmita Dev (Congress) termed the Budget as progressive and realistic, saying that it reflected the vibrant fiscal health of the State achieved in the recent past.
Etowa Munda (Congress) was of the view that even the Opposition was not finding much fault with the Budget which was a pragmatic one keeping in mind the interests of diverse sections of society. He said that the tea-tribe communities had been languishing for lack of education, and hoped that the next five years would see a renewed thrust on this key sphere.
He also said that the beneficiaries of different welfare schemes in tea gardens should be provided with authentic ID numbers.
Earlier, initiating the debate, Binanda Saikia of the Congress described the Budget as a development-oriented document, which has been prepared with a foresight. Dr Rumi Nath (Congress) also took part in the debate.