By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma on Friday presented a deficit budget of Rs 526 crore with no new taxes proposed for the fiscal year 2013-2014.
Presenting the budget, Dr Sangma said that while the total receipts excluding borrowing and other liabilities for 2013-204 would be Rs 8,609 crore, the total expenditures excluding repayment of loans and other liabilities is estimated at Rs 9,135 crore, thereby incurring a deficit of Rs 526 crore.
He also proposed 12 new initiatives for the overall development of the State for 2013-2014.
Later talking to reporters, Chief Minister said that he did not propose new taxes since the Union Government has recently increased the rates of royalty on coal and the State Government has accordingly revised the royalty rates.
Chief Minister informed that 12 new initiatives which the State Government is proposing to take up in the next fiscal year includes special programme for women and youth on skill development and entrepreneurship promotion and establishment of a super specialty hospital at a suitable location in Ri-Bhoi District.
According to him, the Government is also contemplating to set up an Engineering College at Jaintia Hills even as it will provide wedding assistance to orphan girls of marriageable age.
“A new initiative for promotion of essential infrastructures in rural areas to be known as the State Rural Infrastructure Development Initiative (SRIDI) will be implemented. A similar initiative for urban areas will be started to be known as State Urban Infrastructure Development Initiative,” the Chief Minister said.
He said that the Government is also intending to reorganize the functioning of all the Community and Rural Development Blocks in the State.
“We will also develop thematic villages in the State emphasizing on sectors which are critical to rural areas including rural sanitation, rural energy and rural housing.
To alleviate the burden of households, he said that the Government intends to provide one additional domestic LPG cylinder to every registered card holder at subsidized rate.
“To ease traffic congestion, dedicated parking bays will be constructed at Shillong, Tura and Jowai,” he said.
To recognize the achievement of sportspersons, Dr Sangma said that the Government would provide scholarships for sportsperson who excel at the National and State Level.
“Special coaching programmes for talented youth in disciplines like Football, Table Tennis, Badminton, Archery and contact sports will be carried out,” he said.
The Chief Minister informed that special programmes for women and youth on skill development and entrepreneurship promotion will be launched for which dedicated fund is being earmarked.
Earlier, in his budget speech, the Chief Minister highlighted that the estimated Plan expenditure including Centrally-sponsored schemes, Central sector schemes, NEC and NLCPR for 2013-14 is Rs 5,637 crore, an increase of 27.7 per cent over the current year’s estimate of Rs 4,413 crore.
“The total non-Plan expenditure for 2013-14 has been estimated at Rs 3,482 crore, an increase of 9.1 per cent from the budget estimate of 2012-13,” Dr Sangma informed.
Informing that the interest payment during the next fiscal year is estimated at Rs 354 crore, he said that the pension payment is expected to be at Rs 335 crore.
“The salary payment for 2013-2014 is estimated at Rs 2,092 crore,” he said.
The Chief Minister also proposed a non-Plan budget of Rs 607 crore for Education, Rs 433 crore for Police, Rs 309 crore for PWD, Rs 250 crore for Agriculture and allied sectors, and Rs 179 crore for Health.
On power, he said that the power scenario in the State is still a major concern of the Government.
“The demand for power is above 600 Mega Watts (MWs), whereas the installed capacity in the State has gone up to around 310 MWs with the commissioning of the three units of the Myntdu-Leshka Hydro Electric Project (3 x 42 MWs). Another 210 MWs of power is the State’s entitlement under the Central Sector share,” the Chief Minister said while also pointing out that since most of the power stations in the North East are hydro based, the actual generation and availability is dependent on the monsoons, and there is always a gap between demand and supply.
In order to address the power deficit, steps have been initiated to increase the generation capacity in the State sector, through Central Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and through projects under Joint Venture and Public Private Partnerships, he said.
In relation to the Commerce and Industries Department, he said that during the current year (2012-2013) the Government has provided incentives to 534 micro and small enterprises to promote their growth with an investment of Rs 3.66 crore and financial assistance of Rs 3.91 crore while adding that under the medium and large scale Sector, 34 units have been provided financial assistance to the tune of Rs 10.69 crore.
To accelerate the industrial growth in the State, he said that the State Government has announced a comprehensive Meghalaya Industrial Investment Promotion Policy (MIIPP), 2012.
On Mining and Geology department, the Chief Minister said that the department is involved in carrying out geological programmes on mineral exploration every year.
“The production of coal and limestone during the current financial year upto December 2012 was recorded at 34.48 lakh metric tons and 34.03 lakh metric tons respectively. The total revenue collected on major minerals upto December 2012 is Rs 204.71 crore and the anticipated level of revenue generation for the year 2013-14 is estimated to be Rs 288.75 crore.
As a measure of additional resource mobilization, Dr Sangma informed that the Government has set up 15 check gates on important routes of the State in order to ensure proper checking and revenue collection on minerals transported outside. Steps have been initiated to implement the Meghalaya Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012, in the State, he informed.
On the health sector, he said that the promotion of health care to the people is the priority of the Government and these include strengthening and consolidating the existing health care facilities and extension of outreach services to the populace of the State through its network of Hospitals, CHC, PHCs, Sub-Centres and grass root field workers.
“The biggest challenge of the sector today is the huge gap in human resource requirement and availability. The department is meeting the challenge by setting up two medical colleges in the State at Shillong and Tura. In addition, 360 GNM posts have been sanctioned to augment nursing care in the State,” he said.
According to the Chief Minister, the Megha Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) has been introduced to cater to the medical needs of the citizens of the State other than Government employees who are already covered.
“The insurance cover is up to Rs 1.6 lakh per household with a premium of Rs 31 per family per year,” Dr Sangma said.
He informed that a state-of-the-art 12-bedded ICU facility has been sanctioned at Civil Hospital, Shillong at a cost of Rs 4.50 crore. A modern CT scan, MRI and Digital X-ray will be commissioned soon in the same facility.
To reaffirm the Government’s commitment to increase the reach of health services and to make available specialized services to the people, the Chief Minister said that the Government will set up on a PPP mode, a super-specialty hospital at a suitable location in Ri-Bhoi District.
On the Public Distribution System (PDS), Dr Mukul said that he Government is committed to ensure timely delivery of essential commodities to the beneficiaries through the Public Distribution System.
A significant part of the challenges in the PDS emanates from bogus and shadow ration cards. The Government intends to put in place a robust mechanism to positively confirm and track the individual beneficiary off-take on a monthly basis through the Smart PDS System using Biometric Smartcards for the ration card holders and point of sale terminals at the fair price shop dealers’ level, coupled with computerized MIS System,” he said, while adding that this effort will help in dealing with the problems of transparency, transportation and PDS leakages.
“We intend to implement this initiative immediately,” the Chief Minister said.
On Education, he said that the department has been able to obtain sanction from the Union HRD Ministry to set up 4 Industrial Training Institutes at the Block level.
Dr Sangma said that a B.Ed College at Jowai has also been sanctioned for training of secondary school teachers.
While stating that there is a gap in the availability of technical manpower in the State, he said that the establishment of the Meghalaya Technical University in Tura, West Garo Hills and an Engineering College in Jaintia Hills will also be taken up.
“We have further obtained mandatory clearances from the HRD Ministry to impart Distance Learning Training to all of our untrained elementary school teachers in partnership with the National Institute of Open Schooling within a time frame of thirty months,” he said.
On the Tourism sector, he said that the Government has taken effective steps to promote and develop tourism and the State is emerging as one of the preferred destinations in the North East.
“The Department of Tourism has made earnest efforts to tap the existing tourism potential in the State by creating infrastructure to render hospitality services to tourists visiting the State. The Government is also encouraging Public Private Partnerships,” he added.