Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio  Credit: File image

Kohima: During the discussion on the Budget 2020-21, Nagaland opposition party Naga People’s Front (NPF) criticised the Budget presented by chief minister Neiphiu Rio as “shallow”, as it lacked ‘substance’, on Thursday.

Rio, who holds the portfolio of the finance, had earlier announced that the year is estimated to close with a negative balance of Rs 2.3 crore.

Leader of opposition TR Zeliang expressed shock on how that a total of Rs 573.17 crore deficits have increased within a year. “For a small state like Nagaland, to incur such astronomical figures in the deficit within a span of a year would be disastrous and lead to a total breakdown of the state financial position. With very few avenues to generate revenue, the state cannot afford to bear such huge amount of deficit,” he added.

It may be noted that earlier on Thursday, CM Rio had stated that the closing deficit of the state is increasing due to reduction in the share of central taxes as shown in the Union Budget by Rs 939.03 crore in the Revised Estimates.

Zeliang suggested that the “state government should also work spiritedly and not remain complacent and accept the argument of the central government when they refuse to grant the State with specific grants citing increased devolution to the States. As rightly pointed out, the increased devolution would not be enough to rescue the State from the shortfall to take up developmental works”.

Referring to Para 5 of the budget speech, Zeliang said that although it mentioned that the two members of the Finance Commission had advised the state to give more focus to the Agri and Allied sector, no mention of any policies or programmes for improvement and enhancement in this sector was made. “Given that Nagaland is an agrarian State, it is most vital to give more focus in the agricultural sector for us to be self-sufficient. Without formulating any concrete policies and programmes, Vision 2025 of the State of Nagaland will merely be a piece of paper and the dream will only remain a dream”, he added.

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He also went on to say that the state government has failed to convince the commission and get convincing answers from them to help the poor financial state of our state, as there were no mention of any assurances given by the commission, as per the Budget speech. He noted that other than the tax on heavy machinery and the hike in petroleum products, “there is basically nothing in this whole speech which we can be happy and proud off. Just as last year’s or the year before, the budget speech is focused more on the entertainment”.

Meanwhile, MLAs Chumben Murry and Kuzholuzo Nienu pointed out that the Budget speech was nothing different from the Republic day and Independence day speech as it was shallow and lacked vision. Murry suggested that the government must not only focus on creating job avenues for the youth but also equally focus on family planning.

Pointing to the meagre increase on allocation for the agriculture department, Murry questioned as to how the farmers in the state will produce self-sufficiently. He also said that the most important aspect — the gross domestic product — of the state was not mentioned. He further recommended the government to levy tax on commercial buildings.

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