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Mixed reaction to Union Budget 2006-07 in NE

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Guwahati, Feb 28: Mixed reactions greeted the Union Budget in North East as industry termed it 'lukewarm' and Opposition parties called it 'lackluster', while ruling Congress in Assam was 'delighted'.

Union Finance Minister P.Chidambaram announced a hike of 18 per cent in fund allocation for the eight NE states, including Sikkim, but refrained from giving individual sops to the states, except a horticulture institute in Nagaland.

President of North East Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NECCI) S.K.Jain said, "I am disappointed that the budget has not touched the subject of industrial policy for the North East. The industries in the region are on the verge of closure and we were really expecting a lot from the budget after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent visit". The Budget mentioned about Rural Infrastructure Development Fund through which Rs 347 crore was sought to be pumped in which could go up to at least Rs 600 crore by the end of the year.

The AGP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) castigated the budget, calling it 'a bad one'.

AGP spokesman Jagadish Bhuyan said, "There is no mention of the word Assam in the budget. The increases of budgetary allocation are normal. Even your House budget gets increased every year. What is new to that? Both the railway budget and now the general budget has completely exposed how much the Congress cares for Assam".

BJP spokesman Ashok Singhal said, "Looking at the budget, you can make out that Bengal and Tamil Nadu are going to polls with sops for the voters. And for Assam, there is nothing, not even an assurance on the industrial policy. The budget is completely silent on Assam. This is unfortunate". The budget announced a Rs 100 crore package for the tea industry, which brought some relief to the struggling tea industry in the state. However, the tea industry refrained from making a comment without studying the Budget closely.

However, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, sounded satisfied with the budget, ''This is a big leap. No previous government gave such an increase in the budgetary allocation.'' Confederation of Indian Industry, North East, president Abhijeet Barooah also spoke on similar lines.

According to him, the 18 per cent rise is good for the North East and would trigger infrastructural development.

UNI

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