Assam demands special economic package

Assam demands special economic package

Guwahati: Pressurised by insurgency, infiltration from Bangladesh, natural calamities and economic slow-down, the Assam government has asked the 13th Finance Commission for a special economic package by subsidising 100% of its additional expenditure.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters Saturday that the Finance Commission was apprised about the necessity for the special package “because of global recession, Assam’s income has come down as the royalty from our oil has fallen even though my economic development expenditure is rising. I will lose 1000 crore almost".

“Devolution of central fund share will, therefore, also go down. Tax collection will also go down. Overall over Rs2,000 crore, I will lose. But sixth Pay Commission, state pay commission and UGC pay expenditures will go up. This will have a cascading effect on our economy", he feared.

“From 2005 till now we had surplus but that will not last long as I will have over 9000 crore additional expenditure to be met between 2006-09. That is why we are demanding that all the extra burden be borne by the Centre", he said.

“I explained to the Centre why Assam is backward. The situation here is different from the rest of the country being disturbed by over 14 insurgent outfits active in all its districts", the chief minister said.

“The problem here is complex than in other states. HuJI, ISI and LeT are there...the neighbouring countries are giving them shelter. Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal have become safe havens for them," Gogoi pointed out.

“I also met (union) home minister P. Chidambaram in Delhi and urged the central government to put pressure on Bangladesh as on Pakistan ... otherwise it will be difficult to contain insurgency here despite all the steps I take", he said.

The government’s salary and pension bill alone per year was Rs5,200 crore, Gogoi said.

Justifying the need for the special package, he said, both the Home minister and Finance Commission were informed that the state was saddled with economic hardship ever since the partition of the country which led to an influx of refugees.

Due to the partition roads, railway and river communication had to be developed afresh making it incur vast expenses, the chief minister pointed out.

Conflicts among ethnic communities, its difficult terrian, Assam agitation, natural calamities like earthquake and floods and Chinese agression in 1962 had also added to its economic hardship, he said.

To tide over the situation, Gogoi said, the state’s tax base would be expanded and loopholes plugged.