The Assam budget 2021-22 of the new BJP-led government under Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has evoked contrasting reactions, with the ruling party leaders and cabinet ministers hailing it as “people-centric” but opposition parties calling it “visionless and anti-poor”.
Ajanta Neog, the state’s first woman finance minister, presented a Rs. 566 crore deficit budget for 2021-22.
Opposition leaders of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) termed the first state budget as “directionless”.
They termed the budget as full of poems and filled with ornamental language but it has neither vision nor direction.
Highlighting the Assam budget 2021-22 as flawed, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee leaders rolled out a few key flaws:
1. The budget has earmarked money and schemes exactly but there are doubts as to how much that money can be extracted.
But it is seen that Assam has not received funds from the Central Government especially in the two financial years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. Only a very small amount of funds have been received.
Assam has not paid Rs 80,000 crore as GST, and has not received the financial commission grants as prescribed.
In the wake of the Covid epidemic, the financial situation is grim as per the information of the Reserve Bank of the Central Government at present.
Under such circumstances, there are doubts that money will be received from the Centre as prescribed in the budget.
On the other hand the state government’s tax collection has also come down considerably in the wake of the Covid epidemic. As a result the state government tax will not be collected as per the target set in the budget. Naturally this budget will fail.
2. The budget mentions that paying salary, pension and interest will cost Rs 51,000 crore a year. On the other hand, the government will earn Rs 1.7 lakh crore this financial year.
Now excluding Rs. 51,000 crore required for salary pension and interest, only Rs. 56,000 crore will remain.
How can the state government provide jobs to one lakh unemployed with just Rs. 56,000 crore ? The government must publish a white paper on this issue.
3. The most important department like the Assam Accord, has been earmarked with mere Rs. 2.7 crore. This step by the government highlights its responsibility towards Assam and Assam Accord.
4. In the recent budget, state government has no scheme for people who were hit hard during the pandemic period. There was no budget scheme for those who lost their jobs, unorganized sections of the society such as rickshaw drivers, auto drivers, private car drivers, day-to-day people, people running small and retail businesses on foot, Wood masons, raj mistry, electricians, plumbers, tailors, wipes, mobile theatre artists, band party workers, vegetable traders, fisheries etc.
5. The Assam budget have no contingencies to control the skyrocketing price of petrol-diesel cooking gas, various essential commodities and life-saving medicines.
6. State government has done extreme betrayal in the Orunodoi scheme. Earlier the state government promised to increase the monthly allotment of Rs. 830 to Rs. 3,000. However, in the recent budget, Assam government has announced to allot only Rs. 1,000 per month.
7. It is commendable that government has earmarked funds in the budget for rehabilitation of NDFB surrendees.
But not earmarking a single dime in the budget for the surrendees of the rest of the militant outfits in Assam is indicative of an irresponsibility of the government.