Meghalaya presents tax-free deficit budget

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Shillong, Mar 27: The Meghalaya government today presented a tax-free deficit budget of Rs 125.34 crore, with an actual expenditure of Rs 3844.20 crore and actual receipt of Rs 3718.86 crore.

The Assembly also saw the passage of the vote on account budget of Rs 139.12 crore for the financial year 2007-08. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Conrad K Sangma said the Planning Commission had projected an increased Plan size of Rs 9.185 crore for Meghalaya, against the state's proposed 11th Plan outlay of Rs 8.695 crore.

Further, as against a nine per cent overall projected growth rate for the country, the growth rate for the state during the Plan period has been envisaged at 7.3 per cent. He said the target, necessitates sectoral growth rates of 4.7 per cent in agriculture, 8 per cent in Industry, 7.9 per cent in services during the period.

''The Draft Vision-2020 for the North Eastern Region initiated by the North Eastern Council has estimated that Meghalaya needs a 9.86 per cent growth rate in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) and at 8.62 per cent in terms of its per capita GSDP to catch up with the rest of the country by 2020,'' Mr Sangma told the House.

In his maiden budget presentation, Mr Sangma also envisaged a total outlay of Rs 1.632.59 crore for Non Plan budget 2008-09. The amount proposed for some of the major departments in the Non-Plan budget for 2008-09 include Rs 166.75 crore for Home (Police), Rs 163.12 crore for Roads and Bridges, Rs 259.58 crore for Education, Rs 72.51 crore for the Medical and Public Health, Rs 64.46 crore for Power, Rs 60.70 crore for Water and Sanitation and Rs 26.22 crore for Agriculture.

On the annual Plan size, the FM said the approved Plan outlay of Rs 3224.33 crore representing an achievement of 90.71 per cent, amounted to Rs 2924.84 crore.

''Our priorities for the 11th Plan include Power, Agriculture and allied sectors with due emphasis on Horticulture, including post-harvest management and processing, roads and bridges, sericulture and weaving, tourism and creation of infrastructure for trade with Bangladesh,'' Mr Sangma said.

On the health sector, Mr Sangma said, the state government had closely pursued the matter of effective operationalisation of North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIMS) and pledged full support to the Union government's efforts to commence MBBS course at the medical institute from the coming academic year.

He added that the government had taken steps to provide land for the setting up of an Indian Institute of Public Health by the Public Health Foundation of India.

With Meghalaya being identified as a tourist hotspot, Mr Sangma said, this sector had vast potential to create employment opportunities to generate income, even with low investment.

''We will encourage eco-rural and community based tourism on a greater scale to ensure that benefits emanating from this sector percolate to the grassroots level,'' he told the House.

Further, steps will be taken for creation of infrastructure in specific tourist destinations and circuits to ensure continued inflow of both domestic and foreign tourists.

To this end, he informed that an aggressive publicity campaign, both in the electronic and print media, will be undertaken.

UNI

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