GUWAHATI, March 12 � Though the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi presented a tax-free Budget today, hopes and aspirations of various segments of people remained unfulfilled. While some budgetary proposals were hailed by the people, many felt that the Budget had nothing new to offer.
Some initiatives of the government, particularly those in the education sector like provincialization of educational institutions including madrassas and Sanskrit tols, opening of 21 new polytechnics etc., were lauded as a step to improve educational scenario in the State. On the other hand, the Budget was criticised for not addressing some of the core issues concerning the people of the State including price rise.
The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) welcomed the industry-friendly Budget. Abhijit Barooah, co-chair, CII NE Council, said that positive indications for the long term have been announced in the Budget on issues such as VAT rates, sectoral sops, etc. �The Budget�s special incentives will help revive the economy by stimulating investment,� he added.
According to the Assam Chamber of Commerce (ACC), the Budget has sidelined some of the major issues. �Agriculture is one of the primary sectors of the State, but this year�s Budget completely ignored the agricultural marketing sector,� said Rupam Goswami of the ACC.
�Providing tractors and power tillers to the farmers would be meaningless if they do not get good value for their products. We have given several memorandums to the government asking for providing cold storages and mandis so that the farmers need not have to sell their produce at throwaway prices,� Goswami said.
He also added that only the announcements made in the Budget speech are not good enough unless they are implemented on the ground.
�Only 44 per cent of last year�s Budget announcements was implemented and 56 per cent is still not implemented. Thus it becomes imperative to ensure the full implementation of the Budget,� he added.
�The most attractive feature of the State Budget to me is the proposal to undertake a survey of the number of people living below poverty line (BPL) in the State,� said noted economist Dilip Baruah.
�It is of crucial importance because allocation of funds directly from the Central Government�s Planning Commission or the Finance Commission is based on the inter alia poverty figure. Unfortunately, we are getting such diverse figures about poverty that we get lost. For example, India Human Development Report 2011 puts the percentage of BPL people in State at 19 per cent whereas Planning and the Development Department of the State puts it at over 36 per cent. Similarly, DoNER and Tendulkar Committee have come out with entirely different figures. It�s important that we try and obtain much more realistic figures which would improve the delivery system as the intended beneficiaries of different schemes would be reasonably correctly identified,� he added.
State government�s proposal of establishing the statues of Sukapha in Delhi and Guwahati was welcomed by Dhiren Baruah of Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG). Baruah, however, said that lack of any scheme for underground drainage system in Guwahati and schemes for riverfront development was a big disappointment for the people of Guwahati.
�Though the Budget speaks of comprehensive drainage system in Noonmati and Bahini basin in Guwahati, these steps should have been taken much earlier. Moreover, for maintaining hygiene in the city, underground sewerage and drainage system is a must,� he added.
The Kamrup Chamber of Commerce (KCC) welcomed the State Budget saying that since no new tax has been imposed, it would surely benefit the common people. �However, the 30 per cent increase in the railway goods freight by the Union Government recently would surely hit the people. If the traders have to pay minimum Rs 100 extra on per quintal of essential items, the prices of all essential commodities would automatically increase,� said Bhushan Jain, joint secretary of the Kamrup Chamber of Commerce.