Naveen Patnaik described Budget 2017 as mixed bag

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 1: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today described the 2017-18 Union Budget as a "mixed bag" but said it fell short of expectations on many counts even as he welcomed some of the measures announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Naveen Patnaik

"The initiative related to job creation is one area of serious concern where an adequate focus has not been given. The Union Budget 2017-18 is a mixed bag and falls short of expectations on many counts. Not much has been done to address the adverse impact of demonetisation," he told reporters.

Patnaik said specific concerns of Odisha, specially relating to the development of the KBK region, opening of bank branches in gram panchayats which had no banking facility and meeting the development aspirations of the SCs and STs have not been addressed. Stating that the Union Budget was a major financial intervention exercise after demonetisation, he said people at large took the brunt of the move to scrap high-value currency.

"I was expecting something spectacular for the common man in the Union Budget," Patnaik said. The scheme related to the transfer from Centre to the states has been proposed to increase at a meagre rate of 5.5 per cent over the previous budget, he said.

"Considering inflation, in real terms, there is no increase at all. The allocation of funds for schemes relating to rural roads, rural drinking water, education, mid-day meal programme and urban development is almost stagnant," he added.

Special central assistance and Article 275 grant for tribal areas showed a growth of only 6.3 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively, Patnaik noted, adding that there was "no growth at all" in the allocation of special central assistance for the welfare of the Scheduled Caste as well as social security pensions under the National Social Assistance Programme.

"We welcome some of the measures for the farm sector, specially in dairy processing, and the infrastructure development fund to be set up under NABARD. There is also an increased allocation for rural housing," the BJD chief said.

Stating that these measures were in line with the state government's development priorities, Patnaik said, "However, I would have been personally happy if the interest rate on agricultural credit was reduced to one per cent as has been done by our state government for the benefit of the farmers."

PTI

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