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No budget boost for NE

Vincent, Wansuk say Budget ignored region; Conrad happy

NEW DELHI/ SHILLONG: The North East did not get significant allocation in the Union Budget 2017 though the region had expected a major share from the ministries of road transport and railways. This is despite the BJP winning the biggest state of the region, Assam, and the assembly elections in Manipur.
Allocation for the northeastern region across all ministries has been increased from Rs 32,180 crore last year to Rs 43,245 core this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. The ministries are required to allocate 10 per cent of their budget to the North East, which also goes into the non lapsable pool of central resources.
The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) got a minor raise from Rs 2,524 core last financial year to Rs 2,682 crore this year. Keeping the Assam election results and polls in Manipur in mind, it was expected that the budget would have some significant announcements for the North East.
But the North Eastern Council has got more or less the same allocation evoking criticism from the majority Congress members of Parliament from the region, including Meghalaya.
Both the members of Parliament, Vincent H. Pala and Wansuk Syiem, criticised the budget for “ignoring” the North East despite “tall promises” of connectivity and inclusive growth.
But Tura MP Conrad Sangma, whose party NPP is in     alliance with ruling BJP-led NDA, hailed the “positive” Union Budget citing that it has given importance to infrastructure development and widened the tax base even while reducing the tax burden.
“It is a good budget as it has focused on infrastructure, youth, farmers and it is good for small sectors. It is overall a good budget. Even the reduction of tax is a big relief for the people,” he told The Shillong Times.
However, the MP felt that more could have been done as there should be more funding for the District Councils and NEC. He said he would take up the matter with the Union Government.
The road sector has seen a stepped-up allocation from Rs 57,976 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 64,900 crore in 2017-18. The total length of roads, including those under PMGSY, built from 2014-15 till the current year is about 1,40,000 km, which is significantly higher than the previous three years, Jaitley said while presenting the budget which included railway budget too.
A specific programme for development of multi-modal logistics parks, together with multi modal transport facilities, will be drawn up and implemented, Jaitley said. Similarly, railways will get a big boost in the landlocked region with substantial share going to the region.
The Finance Minister in his budget speech talked about the value chain that will come up once the organic farming comes up in a big way in the North East.
‘Clean-up budget’
In Shillong, UDP leader Jemino Mawthoh found that the budget was a comprehensive one and termed it as a “clean-up budget”.
“There is a general emphasis to bring in transparency in the economy and it is good for electoral reforms,” he added.
Echoing Sangma, he said it is a budget that laid emphasis on roads, railways and as such it is a welcoming step.

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