Guwahati, July 17: The Congress in Assam on Saturday criticised the state budget for 2020-21 describing it as "history's most fraudulent budget" with nothing new for people suffering from the impact of COVID-19, abnormal price rise and unemployment.
The pandemic has led to loss of livelihood of the working class in the unorganised sector and these people are suffering but there is no relief for them in the budget, state Congress president Ripun Bora claimed while addressing a press conference here. Not a single word has been uttered to give relief to these people hard hit by pandemic and price rise in the Rs 566 crore deficit budget tabled in the state assembly on Friday, he alleged. There is also no mention in the budget for controlling the abnormal price hike of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and life-saving medicines crippling the common man, Bora claimed.
"No mention of price regulation measures in the budget reflects the state government's callousness towards the existence of the lower and middle income group of the society," he said. The government's promise to provide employment to one lakh people is like a drop of water in the ocean as the state has 38 lakh unemployed youth, Bora said. Bora pointed out that the BJP government had promised that microfinance loans for women would be waived and there is mention of Rs 12,500 crore that is needed for the purpose but only Rs 7,500 crore has been allocated for the purpose.
"From the finance minister's speech, it appears that she is concerned only with payment of Rs 25,000 as a relief. By dividing the microfinance beneficiaries into three sections and allotting Rs 7,500 crore, it is evident that many women would be deprived of the scheme", he said. This is the "biggest betrayal by the BJP government and the party to the women of Assam who came out in large numbers to vote for them believing in this promise," he said.
The chief minister, during his stint as the finance minister in the previous government, had criticised the Congress and its government, by saying that he will not distribute yarn to women but take permanent measures to empower them, Bora said.
"In the last five years, however, no permanent women empowerment schemes have been adopted and this budget also has no mention of it," he said. The Assam Accord Department, a major department considered to be a symbol of protection of the Assamese identity, has been allocated only Rs 2.7 crore and "this reveals the government's farcical responsibility towards the Accord", the Congress leader said. Funds allocated for re-establishment of surrendered cadres of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) is appreciated but the budget has not provided a paisa for the surrendered cadres of other militant organisations, he said.
Bora also slammed the BJP government for borrowing a Rs 47,000 crore in five years. The state government's borrowing till Tarun Gogoi's government in 2016 stood at Rs 35,000 crore which included the terms of chief ministers Hiteswar Saikia and Prafulla Mahanta, he said. "The BJP government's borrowing alone in the last five years is Rs 47,000 crore and now the credit load is Rs 82,000 crore. With interest, the amount payable this year will be Rs 6,500 crore. It remains to be seen with what magic power, the CM will fulfil the promises in the budget without any earning," Bora said.