GUWAHATI, March 12 - The first ever digital budget, presented on the floor of the State Legislative Assembly today, was hailed as a development-oriented one by the industry bodies of the State. Initiatives for developing the small and medium enterprises and thrust on investment promotion and social sector earned some brownie points for Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s budget for the year 2018-19. On the other hand, thrust on social, education and health sectors was appreciated by several other organisations.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has lauded the emphasis laid by the Finance Minister on jobs, inclusive development and structural reforms and transformation. Abhijit Barooah, co-chairman, CII North East Council and MD, Premier Cryogenics Ltd said that the budget has laid major emphasis on the three pillars of public financial management – budget preparation, resource mobilisation and expenditure management.
“CII believes that the government allocation of Rs 100 crore for the MSME units under the Credit Guarantee Scheme will benefit both existing and the new micro, small and medium enterprises in the State. The guarantee will cover up to 50 per cent of the loan amount taken from scheduled commercial banks and RRBs for loans up to Rs 50 lakh,” he added.
The plan for revival of the Assam Polyester Cooperative Society Ltd. (APOL) has also been lauded by the industry body. It suggested that adequate importance should be given to create a good management team under the leadership of a technocrat as managing director of the unit.
SK Barua, chairman, CII Assam State Council and Managing Director, Numaligarh Refinery Limited said the Assam State Budget 2018-19 is prudent and at the same time ambitious.
“Establishing a dedicated cell LEAP (Lead Externally Aided Projects) to support the various administrative departments in coordinating with external funding agencies to explore potential projects in critical development areas such as infrastructure, rural development, industries, agriculture, fisheries, etc. is quintessential and will have positive effects in project implementation. The cell should also explore private participation in the projects so that some of the projects can be done in PPP mode,” he added.
The Assam Chamber of Commerce also said the State Budget has brought several welcome initiatives so far as trade, commerce and industry in the State is concerned.
“To reap the benefits of the Global Investors’ Summit, a dedicated agency ‘Invest Assam’ will be set up that will work in tandem with Invest India and undertake investment promotion and investment follow-up activities on a regular basis,” said ACC State chairman Rupam Goswami.
He further mentioned that the provision for a land bank for potential investors and industrial corridors from Jalukbari to Kukurmara and from Jalukbari to Tihu would facilitate rapid industrialisation.
“Further, the budget has given ample thrust to road and other infrastructure development, which will create markets even in rural and far-flung areas of the State. Moreover, if the farmers are benefited, the overall growth of the State can also be expected. It is a huge budget, worth more than Rs 90 thousand crore and has allocated Rs 839 crore to the Industries and Commerce Department,” he added.
Social organisations: Media Trust, Assam has welcomed the budget and thanked the government for the one-time allocation of Rs 10 lakh to it.
The Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad said that the innovative step to place a digital budget would make it accessible to all the citizens of the State without much hassle.
“We welcome the State government’s scheme for free healthcare to the government employees and pensioners. It was one of our long-pending demands. Moreover, provision of lifelong pension to the unmarried daughters of government employees, after the death of her parents, was also one of our major demands, which the government has fulfilled through this budget,” Parishad president Basab Kalita said, asking the State government to implement all its schemes timely so that maximum number of people can get the benefits.