Budget Blues

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

February and March are the months marking the end of the financial year. These are the months of mad rush among all departments to fully utilise allocated funds and submit audited balance sheets. During these months, there is frenetic activity in almost all departments, with extended working hours, especially in the finance department.
On the other side, these are also the months when the annual budgets are presented in the nation and in the states. The budgets are watched live in specially organised live TV shows in big convention halls by CEOs, business tycoons, financial experts, economists, politicians, media experts, intelligentsia, etc.
Over the next few weeks, the budgets are scrutinised, discussed and churned minutely by these financial experts. All electronic and print media are filled with analysis and predictions on GDP growth, effect on nation, etc over the next few months till the next budget.
Despite so many budgets presented by so many different finance ministers belonging to so many different political parties, it seems not much difference can be seen in the lives and lifestyles of the common men and women. While economists and financial experts argue over half percent or one percent GDP rates, routine life carries on in rural towns and villages.
Arunachal Pradesh’s budget was also presented on 12 March, 2018. There are many positive proposals in the budget proposal. Few positive aspects proposed in the budget are:-
# Reliable internet connectivity in all district and circle HQs by installing VSATs.
# Scholarships to top 10 students of each district of Rs 2, 000 per month and other scholarships. Collateral free loans from SBI for higher studies.
# Amendment to the Arunachal Pradesh Land Settlement and Record Act, 2000; conferring ownership rights to indigenous people allowing them to offer their land for mortgage or lease.
# Establishment of more Sainik schools and RK Mission schools.
# Jan Sunvai Sammelan to be organised by each DC on first of every month to resolve public grievances.
# Operationalisation of TRIHMS Medical College in 2018-19.
# Free chemotherapy for APST cancer patients and renal care fund of up to 10 lakhs per patient.
# Patient residential care facility near NEIGRIHMS Shillong.
# Reduction in registration fees for mortgaging real estate from 3 % to 1 %.
However, the budget is still a deficit budget and is heavily dependent on funds from the centre. In order to gradually build up towards self reliance and independence from funds from centre, the budgets need to focus on the following:-
# Infrastructure development, like availability of stabilised electricity and roads to capital/district HQs.
# More grants/aids and support to local industries and local entrepreneurs. Towards this, an additional tax on imports from other states may be considered. The government may also consider compulsory procurement from local industries by all departments.
# Investment in agriculture sector by organising wholesale markets and other support in terms of grants/aids etc.
It seems to be a good budget. But it remains to be seen how much of the budgetary targets are met practically on the ground and how many projects and schemes are implemented in letter and spirit. For Arunachal to develop and grow, our leaders and officers must ‘Walk the Talk’. Can we? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)