|Meghalaya Budget session in March|
SHILLONG, Feb 19 - The last budget of the present Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance-II Government would be presented after the Assembly convenes from March 3.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who also holds the Finance portfolio, would be presenting the budget sometimes in mid-March. This would be last budget of the present Government as the State heads for poll in early February next year.
Sangma would have to walk a tight rope in presenting the budget for this fiscal in the backdrop of the continuous ban on coal mining, cloud over the implementation of the GST and a sluggish economy following the demonetisation process.
In the last fiscal, Sangma downscaled the State’s finance as just “credit-worthy.” The State fiscal deficit has breached the Rs 1,000 crore mark, which is 3.6 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product, higher than the targeted three per cent.
On reasons for widening of the fiscal deficit, Sangma said, the global economic slowdown, which affected the country’s investment, resulted in reduced devolution of Central taxes (to Rs 600 crore) to the States.
Moreover, the creation of four new districts and civil sub-divisions has simultaneously increased the State’s expenditure.
Under these circumstances, Sangma has quite a challenge this time as again new civil sub divisions have been created while the devolution of Central taxes has not increased and also the State not getting any substantial investment during this period.
However, with elections scheduled, Sangma nonetheless might dole out some sops for the people in this budget. The popular Health Insurance Scheme might see some additional benefits, which as of now has been stopped owing to lack of fund and clarity.
The 80,000 strong State Government employees are also likely see the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission during this year.