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State budget on �participatory role� model

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 12 - The State Government will follow a �participatory model� to prepare the forthcoming budget by incorporating suggestions from the general public.

Addressing a press conference here today, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the State Budget will be presented on the floor of the Legislative Assembly on July 26.

�We will be preparing a participatory budget. If people want to give suggestions and feedback, they can do so. Earlier, only groups and parties were consulted for budget preparation. This year, we are inviting suggestions from the general public also and we will incorporate them wherever feasible,� he said. Sarma said an advertisement has been put in newspapers of the State by the government urging people to send their suggestions through an e-mail address mentioned therein.

�This time we were able to do this a bit late. But from next year onwards, deputy commissioners will be asked to hold pre-budget seminars and discussions a bit earlier. We want to further increase public participation in the budget process,� said Sarma.

He said that the Assam Medicine Dealers Association has written a letter to the government stating that there will be no change in the MRP of medicines despite the recent hike in VAT.

�Common people will not have to give one paise extra for medicine. In fact, in the last seven days prices of 33 medicines have come down by 20 per cent,� he said. The minister also gave the list of 33 medicines whose prices have fallen.

He said the people of the State can expect some announcement during the budget which will facilitate further fall in prices.

On the criticism of the State Government�s decision to increase VAT on certain products, he asserted that prices of the concerned commodities have not gone up as all these products are sold on the basis of MRP.

He said the VAT increase has been absorbed in the profit margin at the producers� end and not passed on to the consumers and added that the government is keeping a tab on prices. �We will review our decision in the budget in case there is price rise due to hike in VAT,� the minister added.

He said that certain quarters want to discredit the State Government. �They want to create a situation where the State Government will not be able to pay the salary of employees. They want to see the government fail. This is a benign taxation,� Sarma said.

The minister said that there will be a uniform taxation regime in the country with the introduction of the GST from next fiscal. �In case, GST introduction is delayed, I will invite all the finance ministers of the northeastern states to implement a uniform taxation policy in the region,� Sarma said.

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