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Central funds must for State�s progress: Neog

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 30 � The State government today said fiscal reforms introduced by it had led to improvement in Assam�s financial condition over the last few years, but added that Central assistance was still needed to ensure that funds for development projects did not dry up.

Replying to a call attention motion moved by BJP MLA Ranjit Das in the Legislative Assembly, Minister for PW (Roads & Building, NH) and Planning & Development Ajanta Neog said that over the last 14 years the government had taken various measures for fiscal reforms.

She was replying on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who also holds the Finance portfolio.

�Our revenues have gone up significantly in recent years. But so have our expenditures for sectors like salary and pension. We have given jobs to 1.20 lakh youths in recent years,� Neog said.

She said Assam�s geographical location made it imperative for the State to continue to receive Central assistance and rued the fact that funding under the 14th Finance Commission would be cut.

She said for a State like Assam it was not possible to adhere to the 35 per cent cap on expenditure for salaries and pension. �On account of steps like provincialisation of educational institutions and other such schemes, we will need at least 65 per cent of our expenditures to go for salaries and pensions. So we need more funds,� Neog said.

The minister said that the recent Union Budget had also resulted in cuts to social schemes and many such schemes had been delinked from Central funding, thus leading to additional burden for states. �We only want what is rightfully ours,� she said.

Regarding non-submission of utilisation certificates (UC), Neog said the Chief Minister had directed the Chief Secretary to look into the matter.

�Development is a continuous process. Not furnishing UCs does not mean that funds have not been utilised,� she said, adding that even many MLAs have not furnished UCs for MLA funds.

Earlier, BJP�s Das cited media reports suggesting non- utilisation of Central funds and expressed fear that Assam may be heading toward a financial crisis.

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