Meghalaya budget set new benchmark: Chief Minister

Shillong, March 20 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Monday said the 2017-18 budget, which he presented in the assembly last week, will set a new “benchmark”.

“This budget will set a new benchmark for the right kind of environment that the state requires for the overall transformation and changes in the socio-economic landscape of the state,” he said while replying during a budget discussion.

“The budget is inclusive and has taken care of developmental gaps and it will set a yardstick for future prospects and prosperity of the state. This Budget has set a new benchmark that the state requires,” he added.

Describing his deficit budget of Rs 1,236 as “balanced” and “realistic”, Sangma, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said the budget will meet the aspirations of particularly the poor, the rural people, the youths and the job seekers.

Brushing aside the opposition’s allegations that the government failed to adhere to conditions laid down by Fiscal Responsibility and Management (FRBM) Act in terms of fiscal deficit, the Chief Minister said the fiscal health of the state will continue to remain good.

“The fact that Meghalaya is getting funds under Externally Aided Projects stands testimony of the fiscal health of Meghalaya. The issue of debt and debt servicing is regulated and when the state borrows it cannot be done whimsically,” he informed.

However, the Chief Minister admitted that there has been a dislocation in the flow of revenue generation of the state due to the National Green Tribunal ban on coal mining and the number of pronouncements by the judiciary including mining of minor minerals.

“Notwithstanding all these, there has been a steady increase in the revenue receipts of the state,” Sangma said.

“A task force was also entrusted to ensure resource mobilisation so that such challenges do not become reason for the government to stop implementation of various programmes,” Sangma added.

The Chief Minister also noted that the Financial Year 2016-17 was a crucial year for the state because it is the base wherein the Centre will look at what are the revenue available with the state prior to implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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