NEW DELHI, Feb 28 � The UPA �II has �doubled the special allocation to North Eastern States, hiking it to Rs 8,000 crore, out of which Rs 5,400 crore has been earmarked as untied Special Central Assistance.
In order to boost development in the North Eastern Region (NER) and Special Category States, the allocation for special assistance has been almost doubled to Rs 8,000 crore, declared Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Union Budget for 2011-2012.
Assam would also benefit from the proposal to bring �Green Revolution to Eastern Region�. Mukherjee has allotted Rs 400 crore for improvement in rice-based cropping system of Assam, West Bengal Orissa, Bihar Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. �The Green Revolution is waiting to happen. To realise the potential of the region, last year�s initiative would be continued next fiscal,� the Union Finance Minister added. ���
Barring these two paragraphs concerning the North-east, Mukherjee�s 33-page-long Budget speech did not have much either for the North-east or poll-bound Assam. The Finance Minister though kept up the level of Central assistance to the North Eastern States.
The untied fund announced by Mukherjee today is in keeping with a proposal to create a new head under Non Lapsable Pool of Central Resources (NLCPR) central. The proposed fund is �separate from the NLCPR and would be available to Central line ministries for execution of projects covering more than one State in the region. The modalities for the new scheme would now be worked out, said officials. �
However, the Union Budget did not reflect the demands made by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), which had strongly advocated the need to develop the region as a Special Export Zone (SEZ).� Majority of the suggestions made during the pre-Budget meeting between the Union Finance Ministry and DoNER did not find place in Mukherjee�s third Budget.
The DoNER Ministry has submitted a list of recommendations to the Ministry of Finance on changes in tax policy, both indirect and direct taxes for inclusion in the regular Budget for 2011-12, underlining the need for a favourable industrial climate in the region.
The Ministry has supported the demand for exemption from the levy of Service Tax to the eligible units of the NER in line with the norms of the SEZs. DoNER has suggested a series of measures to augment the provisions under the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007.
The amendments made by the Ministry of Finance and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) diluting the provisions relating to Central Excise Duty were also sought to be changed.
The Ministry had requested continuation of 100 per cent Income Tax Exemption as provided by NEIPP 2007, exclusion of NER from provisions of Section 115 JB relating to Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) and for the incentives-subsidies to be exempted from Income Tax Net. �Ministry of Finance has been asked to take a serious view on these,� sources said.
Ministry of DoNER has requested for enhancing the limit up to 200 MW in place of 10 MW for a unit to be eligible for availing the Capital Investment Subsidy, Interest Subsidy and Insurance Subsidy.
Meanwhile, the allocation for flood control and drainage has been slashed to Rs 161 crore from last year�s Rs 166 crore. For the North Eastern Area, the allocation stood at Rs 84.31 crore.
The allocation level for construction of border fencing along Indo-Bangladesh border has been decreased to Rs 495 crore from Rs 944.74 crore, sanctioned last fiscal. The sanction includes construction of border roads (Rs 280 crore) and erection of fencing.
For Indo-China border work, the allocation has been kept at last year�s level of Rs 290 crore. The Centre is going to spend Rs 33 crore on Indo-Myanmar Border works.
The budgetary allocation for Ministry DoNER has witnessed a marginal hike to Rs 1741 crore from Rs 1738.22 crore. The special package for Bodoland has been kept constant at Rs 50 crore. The North Eastern Council (NEC) has been earmarked Rs 633 crore, a meagre jump from Rs 623 crore sanctioned last fiscal. The Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation has been increased to Rs 67 crore from Rs 45 crore.
For the development of airports in the North-east, a sum of Rs 93 crore was allocated. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been provided with budgetary support of Rs 280.15 crore, out of which Rs.93.48 crore has been earmarked for development of airports in the North Eastern States.