A file photo of the state Assembly session that concluded on Friday Credit: DIPR

Kohima: The Nagaland opposition party on Friday dubbed the budget 2021-22 as hollow, bereft of innovation, and plans to ease the hardship of the common man. Leader of Opposition (LoP) TR Zeliang termed the budget as the ‘Construction Budget’ focusing only on constructing infrastructure for various government departments.

“There is no intention to bring in welfare-oriented policies and programmes for the general public of the state except construction related works,” Zeliang said. Opposition MLAs like TR Zeliang, Imkong Imchen, Imtiyapang, Yitachu, who participated in the discussion, criticised the government’s emphasis on constructing buildings under the budget.

During the discussion on the Budget 2021-22, several opposition MLAs pointed what’s missing in the Budget. Some of the points are listed below:

No plans to solve debt crisis:

“Budget 2021-22 has no provision to decrease the mounting debts of the state but has only worsened the condition of the already debt-ridden state,” Zeliang said.

The 15th Finance Commission reported that Nagaland had the second-highest debt in the entire country. Although Nagaland’s debt/GSDP had reduced from 55.5% in 2011–12 to 42.7% in 2018–19, it remains higher than the National Health Education Standards (NEHS) average of 29.61%.

No provision to address rising unemployment:

Zeliang questioned where unemployed youths would go if the Government’s focus is “only on constructing buildings” rather than making provisions to ease the burden faced by the unemployed youths.

He said that employment avenues must be created for the unemployed youth, as government jobs alone will not solve the ever-increasing unemployment rate. “If sources are to be believed, the state has an excess of over 70,000 government employees which is consuming 67.3% of the budget every year,” he added.

No plan for an engineering college:

Opposition MLA Imkong L Imchen said that the budget has no proposal for development initiatives and policies, further adding that the budgetary and financial management needs serious introspection.

Imchen raised the issue of Nagaland not having an engineering college to date. He said that the first Polytechnic institution in the state—Kelhoshe Polytechnic Atoizu, should be made a full-fledged Engineering college of the state.

Also Read: Medical college, coffee, and tourism grant: 11 key takeaways from Nagaland Budget

No mention of mega projects, schemes:

Zeliang expressed dismay saying that there was no mention of mega projects like the Kohima Smart City Project, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) project, Chiethu Airport project, MGNREGA scheme, and so on.

Trade opportunities with Myanmar:

Opposition MLA Yitachu urged the need to enhance the industrialisation sector in the state to improve the economy of the state. He suggested the opening of the state to the neighbouring country—Myanmar for trading purpose. This, he says, will connect the state and the country with other South-East Asian countries.

Equal provisions for all:

With many developmental activities taking place in the capital city of Kohima and the commercial hub of Dimapur, MLAs Chotisuh Sazo and YM Yollow urged the need to create equal development opportunities for the other districts as well.

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