Assam CM shows concern on cut in Central funds

Guwahati, March 13 (PTI): Assam government today said it was “concerned” over gradual cut in central assistance to the state, but asserted that it would not move back to “darker days” prior to 2001.

Replying to discussions on the state budget for 2015-16 in the Assembly, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi sought help from all stakeholders, including MLAs, public and media, in dealing with the problem. “We got Rs 3,000 crore less amount in current fiscal from the Centre. So naturally my speed (of growth) will decrease. In the latest budget also, I got Rs 2,000 crore less. We are concerned. Everyone wants more funds, but it is going down.”
“During UPA tenure also, I told that I needed extra funds. Forget about increase in funds, now we are getting lesser than what we were getting earlier. It is a matter of concern,” he added.
Gogoi, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said the Union government was not giving due importance to flood and erosion problems of the state. “They are gradually cutting funds for many sectors. Problems may arise out of this. But whatever be the problem, we’ll not go back to darker days prior to 2001 with no salary, no investment and no development,” he said.
Gogoi also criticised the Centre over uncertainties in releasing the funds to the states. “Now we do not know how much funds we will get. We are planning only on the basis of an assumption and estimation. Earlier, we were informed about our share,” he added.
The Chief Minister said the state had moved ahead with only one aim since 2001 that it would not move backward. “Prior to that (2001), Assam was facing very bad situation in law and order and economic front. Then we started reconstructing the house gradually. We have managed law and order and economy of the state. Management of both are important. If law and order is not there, no one will come for investment here,” he said.
Citing the last Economic Survey, Gogoi claimed that Assam’s economic growth was higher than the national average and it was steadily moving ahead. “Some say that we can move even faster. For that, we need Central help because we are mostly dependent on the Centre. If we don’t get Central assistance, our growth will come down and we may slip backward,” he added.
Reacting to criticism of the state budget for 2015-16 presented by him earlier this week, Gogoi said it was done to benefit the poor section of the society.
“Budget is for the poors and farmers. People may term it populist or poll-oriented. This is my philosophy. There lies the difference between capitalist economy and Mahatma Gandhi’s economy. It is the difference between market economy and plan economy. We want development by helping the poor,” he added. He, however, said that he would consider all proposals by the MLAs seriously, but asserted that all have to consider the resources of the state as it could not be compared with that of a rich state. “Before 2008, our economic condition was not very sound. After that, we have launched many schemes in the state,” Gogoi said, adding the government must give incentives to invite industries to the state due to its geographical disadvantages.