NEW DELHI, June 14 � The Planning Commission has backed Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi�s development agenda fixing Assam�s annual plan for 2011-2012 at Rs 9,000 crore, marking a respectable hike from Rs 7,645 crore, sanctioned last year.
Riding high on the back of a successful election campaign, the Chief Minister unfolded an ambitious development oriented agenda, seeking allocation of Rs 10,772.72 crore. The amount included Rs 9,297.49 crore for general areas, Rs 820.97 crore for Sixth Schedule Hill and BTC areas.
The plan size was finalised at a meeting between the Chief Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia. The meeting was also joined by State Minister, Tanka Bahadur Rai, State Chief Secretary, Naba Kumar Das, Principal Secretary Planning, Kumar Sanjay Krishna.
Hailing the Chief Minister for his impressive election victory, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, praised the State�s performance in implementation of several flagship programmes.
Ahluwalia said that the State was making appreciable effort to improve growth and focus on agriculture with the objective of achieving self sufficiency in food. He said the State needs to improve focus on industry sector. Efforts to encourage private partnership should continue. He said infrastructure gaps can be bridged much faster with investor friendly approach.
Ahluwalia urged the State Governments to review the ongoing schemes with the purpose of weeding out schemes which have outlived utility. He said this would facilitate improving funding to the schemes which have worked well and also give margin to introduce new schemes. The plan for infrastructure development in North East would be put on firm track during the 12th plan, he added.
Later talking to newsmen, Chief Minister said that he was happy with the allocation and pleased with the concern shown by the Commission for development of Assam. �All along we have been talking about all-round economic development of the State,� reiterated Gogoi.
Listing out the priority of his government, Gogoi said thrust would be given to education, skill development, health and agriculture sector amongst others.
In his 38-page address, the Chief Minister pointed out to the Commission that plan utilisation has shown a marked improvement from 78 per cent in the 10th plan to 90 per cent in the last fiscal. The utilisation of plan fund would have exceeded 90 per cent had it not been for the imposition of the model code for the Assembly polls in early March, he added.
Painting a rosy picture of the economic health of the State, Gogoi said that annual average growth rate has shown a rise of 6.78 per cent. This is an improvement over the 5.33 per cent Gross State Domestic Product growth rate of Assam during the 10th plan period and 1.93 per cent growth during the Ninth Plan period.
�According to advance estimate, the growth rate of Assam in real term is 7.38 per cent during the last fiscal,� he said.
Gogoi singled out the agriculture and service for the impressive performance of the State�s economy. �It is a matter of pleasure that the agriculture (crop) sector has shown an encouraging growth during the recent years. Rice, the major crop in the State has shown a 9.43 per cent growth of production in 2009-2010,� he said.
The service sector has grown by 10.05 per cent during the last financial year, which has helped to maintain the growth momentum in the State economy. The significant fact is that the contribution of service sector to the total economy of Assam is now 55 per cent in 2009-2010 and the same trend in this sector is anticipated in the coming days, he asserted.
The fiscal health of the State has also improved significantly from the 2002-2003. As a result of some innovative reform measures undertaken by the State Government, the State could achieve revenue and fiscal surplus from 2005-2006. However, of late, the financial parameters of the State are showing sign of some stress and strains.
As a result of recession, the growth rate of tax revenue collection has been falling since September 2008. The State�s tax revenue was growing at over 30 per cent till October 2008, as a whole came down to 26 per cent. Thereafter, the situation has deteriorated alarmingly. Till the end of 2009-2010, the average growth rate of revenue has gone down to around 12 per cent.
The State�s own contribution to plan resources usually has been negative over the years. During the last six years, the State has been able to make positive contribution to plan resources. However, with the implementation of pay revision and other contributing factors, the State�s capacity to contribute to the annual plan shall be curtailed in the coming years, Gogoi said.
Implementation of the revised pay scale is causing an additional financial liability of about 10-12 per cent cumulatively every year. Further, the proposed introduction of Goods Services Tax has also raised uncertainty about revenue generation in the State, the Chief Minister said, seeking Planning Commission�s continued support.
The areas of concern flagged by the Chief Minister included the problems of flood and erosion including the threat posed to Majuli Island. He sought a financial support of at least Rs 50 crore for development of the Island. Assam urges for setting up of a North Eastern Water Resources Authority (NEWRA) for evolving a holistic and integrated water and hydro policy for the entire North-east, Gogoi said.