Nagaland's revenue severely affected by COVID-19 lockdown: CM

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio (File Photo)
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio (File Photo)

Rs 127.11 crore spent in the fight against COVID-19

 

Our Correspondent
Kohima | June 15


Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio today said that due to COVID-19 lockdown and its negative impact on economic activities, the revenue of the state were also severely affected.


“During the month of April 2020 we were able to collect an amount of Rs. 21.28 crore only as against an average monthly receipt of Rs. 109 crore during 2019-20,” said Rio while addressing a press conference here today.


Following the partial relaxations during the month of May 2020, tax collections during June rose to Rs. 69.65 crore. However, this is still far below last year’s levels, and will have a deep negative impact on the state resource position during the current financial year, Rio said.


 
COVID-19 RELATED EXPENDITURE
Rio said that the state Government has so far spent an amount of Rs. 127.11 crore to fight against the pandemic. Out of this, an amount of Rs. 24.75 crore has been received from the central government while Rs. 99.42 crore has been spent from the State's own resources, he informed. A sum of Rs. 2.95 crore was used from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.


The state government has been providing financial assistance to those stranded, bearing the cost of bringing them back home and keeping them in quarantine centres at the cost of the state exchequer, he said. He also cited expenditure on repairing of quarantine centres, creation of Biosafety Level (BSL) labs, and purchasing of TrueNat testing machines, ventilators, medicines and protective gear for frontline workers. 


“But the process is far from being over. The fight against the pandemic has just started...we will have to investing more in health infrastructure and related activities to ensure that the spread of this pandemic is contained to the quarantine and isolation facilities,” Rio said.


He further noted that owing to the acute shortage of doctors and nurses, the Government also took the decision to recruit 53 doctors and 143 nurses. The salary expenditure on account of these new posts is estimated at Rs. 11.07 crore annually.


Through the Department of Labour, the state government also extended assistance of Rs. 2000 to 19,046 construction workers from the Cess Fund to protect them from the impact of economic disruption through direct transfer to their bank accounts, Rio said. Till date, the total amount of assistance extended comes to Rs. 3.80 crore.


 
AUSTERITY MEASURES
Meanwhile, the state government ‘knowing fully well” ahead that huge expenses would be incurred in tackling the pandemic, decided to reduce government expenditure through various decisions, Rio said. 


It included freezing of fresh appointments, 15% cut in selected items of expenditure such as Travelling Entitlements, Office Expenses, Motor Vehicles and Maintenance, freezing of dearness allowances and dearness relief during 2020-21 and pro-rata cut of 15% in the state's own developmental expenditure.


Rio also said that the state government machinery has been fully engaged since April 2020 in “preparations for their return, in managing the logistics of their movement and management of the quarantine facilities with all expenses borne by the government along with the support of the churches and the civil society organizations.”  


In order to provide support and hand holding in locating job opportunities and to meet the training/skilling requirements of returnees and keep track of the citizens going out of the state for employment, the Government has set up a Special Cell in the Labour & Employment Department.


“This will be of great help to our working professionals returning and going out for work,” Rio said.


Stating the government has done the “maximum that is possible in the present circumstances,” he also expressed hope that all citizens will be able to look at things positively and fight this pandemic together instead of wasting time making unsubstantiated allegations.

 

REVENUE FROM COVID-19 CESS
The government took a considered decision to levy COVID-19 Cess following a preliminary assessment of the levels of expenditure that would have to be incurred to fight the pandemic particularly to augment health infrastructure and procure protective items and medicines, Rio said. 


Against this backdrop, the government decided to raise extra resources from the petroleum sector since it is one of the few areas that remain outside the purview of GST and within the domain of the state, he said while pointing out that Nagaland is not the only state that has raised rates of tax on petroleum products. 


“We have only decided to name it COVID-19 Cess to ensure that amounts collected are used entirely for the purpose of fighting the pandemic by making it more visible and traceable,” said Rio.


The amount of COVID-19 Cess collected was Rs. 0.24 crore in April and Rs. 3.36 crore in May 2020. The estimated collection for the financial year 2020-21 is Rs. 37.25 crore.


The collections so far are a fraction of what we have already spent without budgetary support, he maintained. 


The coming months will continue to see significant expenditure in the transportation and caring of returnees, purchase of medicines and equipments, completion of the BSL labs and related expenses and investments to augment district hospitals, he highlighted. Rio said that there are also other frontline agencies like the administration, police, fire services who are incurring heavy expenses in their daily activities connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Oil sales make steady recovery 
 

Morung Express News
Dimapur | June 15


Oil sales in Nagaland made a steady recovery in May and June after the slump in late March and April on account of the total lockdown. 


After lockdown measures were relaxed in mid April, the sales increased but were still way below the sales volume of the same period in 2019, as per an IOC official. 


“In May, sale of petrol was down by 50 percent and diesel sale was down by 35-40 percent (year on year),” the official informed.  During March-April, petroleum sales in the state fell by around 70-75 percent. 


Without accounting other petroleum retailers, the sales volume of the IOC alone fell by over 8 percent in the month of March. The oil retailing major has a market share of around 60 percent in Nagaland.


Going by the sales volume currently, the COVID Cess would average around 10-12 lakhs per day, the official added.