ITANAGAR: Deputy Chief Minister and Minister In-Charge Finance, Chowna Mein attended the Union Pre-Budget Meeting of all State/UT Finance Ministers chaired by Union Minister of Finance, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman and co-chaired by Union Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Singh Thakur via video conferencing today.
On behalf of people of Arunachal Pradesh, he thanked the Union Finance Minister for providing effective leadership during this COVID – 19 pandemic and steering the economy in this most difficult time. He said that under the effective and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and supported by an efficient Cabinet helped India in managing the COVID – 19 pandemic.
He said that the State known for its extreme remoteness and backwardness has witnessed an unprecedented development in last 5-6 years and stated the need to continue with the momentum to bridge the developmental gaps which remained unattended for decades after the Independence. He added that the people of Arunachal Pradesh have great expectation and hope of achieving their dreams in development of infrastructure – roads, railways, waterways and airways, border areas, health, education and financial inclusion and incentivising suitably for being a carbon sink State.
While appreciating her calibre to handle the difficult task of ensuring growth in resource generation and its equitable distribution this year and also acknowledging the Central Government Financing in curbing the overall impact of Covid-19 Pandemic to a great extend, he urged the Union Finance Minister to release the share of Central Taxes from the month of January 2021 in full.
He expressed thankfulness to the Central Government for allowing the States to tap the additional market borrowings and requested that the State may be allowed to tap the borrowings by delinking the same with the reforms such as EODB, One Nation One ration etc. He informed that the State has taken major steps in these reforms and achieved major milestones, however, the lack of net connectivity and remoteness has hampered the progress to some extend. He also sought for Green Bonus for the Indian Himalayan States citing that the 15th Finance Commission in its interim report has given weightage of 10% to Forest & Ecology for determining the horizontal sharing of Central Taxes amongst the States.
He also emphasized on development of Border Areas as Arunachal has long international borders with three countries viz, China, Bhutan and Myanmar saying that some of the border areas are witnessing migration of population to foot-hills due to lack of connectivity and other basic facilities. He said that it is of critical importance that the areas near Indo-China border be rapidly developed and the connectivity of roads improved so that a permanent and patriotic border population acts as a check against any foreign mis-adventure. While informing that a comprehensive scheme for infrastructure in Indo-China border areas is now active under consideration of Central Government, he sought her support for the approval of the scheme.
Stating that Arunachal Pradesh is perhaps the only State which has been deprived of Externally Aided Projects from organizations like World Bank, ADB, JICA etc, he requested the Ministry for suitable alternative arrangements. Adding that this not only deprives the State of financial benefits but also of technical knowledge that comes along with External Aided Projects which is a big deterrent in our developmental activities. He also requested for release of fund under Centrally Sponsored Schemes as the implementation of some of the schemes on ground suffered a serious setback due to Covid pandemic.
Citing that the Arunachal has also lost crucial two months due to conduct of Local Body elections coupled with the difficult year due to pandemic, he has requested the Government of India to consider releasing the next instalment of CSS without any conditionality. He also expressed the need to extend Social Security Schemes Banking services to all the unbanked areas by opening new branches and Customer Service Points (CSPs) to cover all the beneficiaries, especially in rural areas for wholesome Financial Inclusion.
He also proposed to increase lending to the Priority Sector so as to benefit the unemployed youth and needy people and in order to provide smooth banking services throughout the State and further pressed to provide Broadband connectivity in all the areas in the state by way of optical fibre and micro wave connectivity.
While expressing the likelihood of the battle against Covid-19 to continue for some more time, he said that the focus of the State govt. in the short run is effective COVID management, saving lives and providing sustainable livelihoods to its citizens on priority.
He further said that in the longer run, the State Govt. plans to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by increasing farmer’s income, reducing poverty, providing drinking water to all, making available quality affordable health care, quality education, skill development and providing basic infrastructure for economic activities and attracting private investment in the State.
Along with DCM, Govt of Arunachal Pradesh’s Principal Secretary (Finance), Shri A C Verma, Commissioner (Planning & Investment), Shri Prashant Lokhande and Secretary (Finance), Smt Y W Ringu attended the virtual meeting.