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New package has nothing substantial for State: Saikia
 GUWAHATI, May 22 - Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia has said that the 20 lakh crore economic relief package announced recently by the Central government has nothing substantial to offer to the common masses of the State.

 “There is nothing worthwhile for the common people of Assam in the package announced by the Prime Minister,” he said.

The senior Congress leader was reacting to Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s recent statement that the Rs 20 lakh crore package will directly touch people of Assam and also increase the fiscal space of the State government substantially.

Saikia alleged that the financial condition of the State is not good. “Besides, the State government has so far failed to announce any schemes for providing support to the people of Assam who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn resulting from the lockdown. There is no plan to empower the people and help them in becoming economically productive,” said Saikia.

He also accused the Centre of failing to fulfil its previous commitments.

“There is nothing about the revival of the two paper mills. There is nothing regarding when work will commence on the fourth stage of the Namrup Fertilizer plant,” he said.

He accused the ruling BJP of attempting to gain political mileage from the COVID-19 and the Centre’s package.

“There was no reason for State BJP president and MLA Ranjeet Kumar Dass to be present with the Finance Minister during the latter’s press conference (of May 18). He (Dass) was introduced there as the chairman of Housefed to legitimise his presence at the press conference, during which Himanta Biswa Sarma spoke about what Assam will gain from the package. We oppose BJP’s attempt to gain political mileage at this time of pandemic,” said Saikia.

He also accused the State government of showing reluctance to bring back people of Assam who are stranded in other parts of the country. “Very few Shramik Special trains have been operated to Assam so far,” said the Leader of the Opposition.

Saikia also expressed concern that not all students in the State have equal access to digital and online medium.

“Many students in rural areas do not have proper access to such technology and the same is also true with regard to students who are from economically weaker families,” said Saikia, adding that there is discrepancy among students of the rural and urban areas and also among those who hail from different economic strata.

He said such disparity could lead to problems among disadvantaged students.

He also called upon Sarma, who is also the Education Minister, to try and convince the private schools to provide some fee relief to the parents of students. Saikia said schools are saving costs like electricity bill of their premises and on fuel for buses as institutions are closed due to the pandemic and so they should pass on some benefit to the students.

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