Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio 

Kohima: Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio assured the citizens that the state government is formulating “strategies and road map to move towards a sustainable and a self-reliant economy” and will soon come up with “strategic steps and targeted dates of implementation of these policies”. As the pandemic is crumbling world economy, Nagaland’s economy is projected for an annual cash shortfall of Rs 955.44 crore deficit for 2020-21 based on April receipts from the Central government.

“We are also deeply concerned that thousands of our people are returning home having lost their jobs and we are challenged to provide gainful employment in some manner,” said Rio in a statement on Friday.

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Citing that Nagaland is impacted by the slowdown of the Indian economy, the chief minister said: “We have already instituted a Strategic Committee on Economic Affairs, followed by activation of Working Groups along with experts and non-government players to formulate strategies and road map to move towards a sustainable and a self-reliant economy.”

“Very soon, we will come up with strategic steps and targeted dates of implementation of these policies,” he assured. Besides the projection of the state’s economy, with a monthly fall of Rs 111 crore deficit due to the pandemic, the financial deficit is likely to increase by end of the financial year.

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Welcome home

“I take this opportunity to welcome back all our children, brothers and sisters who were distressed and stranded in different parts of the country. Many of these citizens have undergone challenging times and nave had difficult experiences in the mainland. Many have lost their jobs, while students are uncertain about their academic year,” the chief minister said.

Pained to see the sufferings of the people during these challenging times, he urged the citizens of Nagaland “to welcome back our people with open arms and extend our love and concern so that their sufferings and trauma is eased to some extent”. With many more who will be returning in the next few days and weeks, he appealed all to collectively ensure that the returnees “feel welcome in all aspects”.

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Despite preparedness, there was management gap and miscommunication

Rio said that the state of Nagaland has been preparing to deal with the pandemic over the last few weeks. “In spite of our limitations we are better prepared than yesterday,” he assured. But with the large number of returnees coming back to the state and detection of COVID-19 positive cases, he admitted that “there was a management gap and some miscommunication among the various functionaries for which the government regrets”.

While the government has decided to set up a BSL testing laboratory at Tuensang and Truenat testing facilities in all the districts to “significantly enhance” the testing capacity, he added saying: “The government is seized of the situation and I appeal to you to bear with us.”

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Do not panic, follow guidelines

The chief minister urged the people not to panic but rather strengthen the resolve to “fight together and triumph together”. “Do not stigmatize the disease and any person who is infected by it,” he said further adding that there is need to extend support and concern to each COVID-19 patient to lessen their suffering and lighten their burden and further respect the privacy of each patient and all their family members.

“This is the time for the strong social bonds of Naga society to emerge as rays of hope and support,” he said requesting all returnees to strictly adhere to government advisories, follow guidelines and make every possible effort to contain the virus at each individual level.

Furthermore, Rio lauded the frontline workers and also commended the efforts of the civil societies, NGOs, church organizations, and all individuals who extended help to the people and the state government in fighting against COVID-19.

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