Chief Minister and Minister in charge of Finance, Neiphiu Rio presented the budget for the financial year 2018-2019 during the session of the 13thNagaland Legislative Assembly on 23rd March, 2018.
Congratulating members on being elected to the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly, Rio maintained the floor of the Assembly as the most sacred space of democracy. The House will continue to uphold the highest traditions of parliamentary conduct and responsible decorum, he stated.
I look forward to fruitful deliberations, healthy debates, positive contributions and collective teamwork in the right spirit of democracy in the coming months and years of this thirteenth House he said, expressing optimism of a constructive role from the opposition bench.
On the Indo-Naga political issue Rio said, that the PDA Government is committed to play the role of active facilitator in the ongoing peace process. My Government will make all possible efforts to create a congenial atmosphere that contributes towards realization of a solution that is honorable and acceptable to the people, he stated.
He appealed to all sections of the Naga people, particularly the tribal Hohos, the mass based organizations, civil societies, NGOs, Churches and the people at large to come forward and support the peace process under a spirit of understanding, brotherhood and unity.
The need of the hour for Naga society is to create confidence and trust and combat the challenges of tribalism which is polarizing the society, Rio said. He also said that the Government will establish a Centre for Peace and Non-Violence, an institution which will bring together experienced minds to bring the society closer together and also strengthen ties with our neighbours.
Rio stated that the Government will provide good governance, transparency and accountability in the administration and to remove VIP culture. ‘Government will also use modern information technology tools to improve governance and increase the adoption of e-governance at all levels’, he added. All departments will mandatorily have websites and portals where all information about the employees, the activities of the departments, ongoing projects, etc., will be displayed, he said.
Further, to boost the use of Information Technology for Good Governance, the Information Technology Department and the National Informatics Centre Nagaland will pool their resources together to bring the State fully into the age of information technology so that efficiency and productivity of the Government is enhanced, he added.
To improve the overall quality of roads for a Connected Nagaland the first priorities of the Government is to start the repair and maintenance of roads in the State Capital and District Headquarters within sixty days for which an amount of Rs. 50 crores has been provided, Rio said.
In the world of trade and commerce, good roads are the most critical factor in promoting economic growth and development. My Government will strive to ensure that all districts are connected by good quality two-lane highways and timely completion of the ongoing National Highway Road projects taken up by NHLDCL with quality, he assured.
The Government is also committed to take definite steps to improve rail and air connectivity for the people of our State, which will have significant impact on our economic growth and developmental process, he added.
Rio apprised that an amount of Rs. 2 crores will be kept aside for capacity building exercises for the tourism and tourism related industry and conduct of tourism centric seminars, training of tour operators, promotions, writers meet etc. and other events like literary meets, folk and fusion events, food and music festivals will be introduced.
Also on Power sector Rio said, the transmission infrastructure of power supply in Kohima, Dimapur and Peren districts will be more stable. He appealed to the public to develop the culture of paying for what we use as huge revenue losses in the Power sector is due to non-payment of bills and power theft.
He further requested all the citizens of the State to observe ‘Earth Hour’ scheduled on the 24th of March, 2018 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm by shutting down non-essential lights and electrical appliances in our homes for one hour. Earth hour is the biggest grassroots movement that seeks to solve the problem of global warming, and preserve our only planet for the future generations, he added.
The foremost priority of the PDA Government in the Rural Development sector will be to transform and elevate the lives of all rural people with gainful employment. Implementation of MNREGA will ensure not only job creation but also creation of durable community assets. Rural employment will further be supplemented through skill development and Rural Livelihoods programmes by having convergence with schemes that promote arts and crafts as also animal husbandry, poultry and piggery.
Online marketing of handloom and handicraft products will help augment the income of rural households. In order to prevent leakages and ensure proper targeting of benefits, instructions will be issued to all departments to link all beneficiaries of Government Schemes including pensions to Aadhaar and biometric systems, Rio informed.
The Government is guided by the Vision 2025 goal of achieving ‘Food for All’ in Agri and Allied sector. He stated that they will continue to focus on achieving food security through adoption of modern technology and adoption of an integrated approach to farming and putting in place critical infrastructure for transportation, storage and processing of products.
An important task that lies ahead is to bring about commercial scales of production in the Agri and Allied sector without which we will not be able to cater to the market demand. He expressed hope that more youngsters will, in the coming years, opt for farming related professions.
The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has approved a project named “Fostering Climate Resilient Upland Farming Systems in Nagaland” amounting to Rs. 612.43 crores for a duration of six years. The project will commence from 1st April, 2018 till March 2024, with a window for further extension. The project aims to improve the present agriculture system, promote permanent settled agriculture, create an organic marketing value chain and undertake forest conservation activities.
In the Forest sector, the Nagaland Forest Management Project (NFMP) has been approved for funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project cost is estimated at Rs. 533 crores, to be implemented in 185 villages of 22 selected Forest Ranges in 11 Forest Divisions covering all the districts of the State. The Project will seek to improve forest ecosystems and support income generation by rehabilitation of jhum areas.
Promotion of games and sports will be one of the thrust areas for the PDA Government. The Government will release a new Nagaland Sports Policy which will be formulated by engaging all sections and stakeholders including inputs from professionals, international sportspersons and experienced sports administrators. Rio further added that the Government will have to plan a strategy where sports becomes an industry that provides gainful employment inside and outside the competitive arenas.
The Government will commemorate T. Ao’s birth centenary with a year round calendar of sporting activities including coaching camps for youngsters involving foreign coaches, exposure events for budding footballers and conduct of tournaments, he apprised. The Hornbill International Motor Rally will be restored and Nagaland will host a national level Nagaland Cross Country under the aegis of the Athletic Federation of India.
Press and media fraternity of the State has made significant contributions towards the strengthening of democratic foundations in Nagaland, he stated. The press persons and media institutions, he pointed has maintained a positive reputation for the fourth estate in this far corner of the country.
In the Education sector, steps will be taken to combat persistent problems such as proxy and bogus teachers and ghost employees and also to improve infrastructure and facilities for both schools and colleges.
Also, to make quality education accessible to all students the Government announced a new insurance scheme for students studying outside the State. All students who have been registered will be covered for a sum of Rupees 5 lakhs in the unfortunate event of death. The Government will release the modalities of the scheme at the earliest.
In the industries sector the Government will begin with key policy interventions to set up business and enterprise and ease of doing Business will be a priority area among the North Eastern States. At the same time, real industrialization should be one that is locally driven and not injected from outside.
He urged all the progressive farmers and young and dynamic entrepreneurs to appreciate the importance of starting big ventures with locally sourced raw materials and produce so that the benefits will flow down to the grassroots levels.
In the Health sector, the World Bank is funding a first of its kind State level ‘Nagaland Health Project’ implemented by the Directorate of Health & Family Welfare. The project seeks to improve health services and increase in their utilization by communities in targeted locations in Nagaland, and is composed of community action on health and nutrition and health system development, he apprised.
The Government has committed to make special interventions to address continuing issues of imbalance in development of the Eastern Naga areas. They will be specially focusing on ensuring connectivity of all block headquarters, provision of broadband connectivity, ensuring availability of doctors in hospitals to ensure that the ENPO areas have better social and physical infrastructure. Terming the non-election of women into the house till date as unfortunate, he assured all possible efforts to bring women into leadership roles at different levels.
As an effort to make conscious strides for upliftment and empowerment of women, the Government as a beginning plans on introduce ‘Pink Bus’ in the State capital and the commercial hub Dimapur on a pilot basis, Rio said. The pink buses which will be pressed into service in selective routes will operate at subsidized rates and will have seats reserved for women, he pointed.
The Government will also introduce a 24 hours Women’s Helpline to assist and help women in distress, victims of domestic violence, abuse and cheating etc., can call this helpline for quick and immediate reaction from the law enforcing agencies.
The Government is committed towards the welfare of the differently abled and also care for those facing mental health challenges. The Government is committed towards protecting and expanding the rights of citizens who are differently abled and will work towards full equal opportunities at work, access to education and to health services.
In order to attract investments from Private Sector and multilateral agencies in Nagaland, Rio proposed to set up the institution of Nagaland Investment and Development Authority. It will aggressively pursue investment projects, infrastructure development and take up measures that contribute towards economic growth in a sustainable manner that is acquainted and adaptable to the situation. The details of the institution and its structure will be announced soon, he stated.
A new initiative to promote a cleaner and more hygienic Nagaland will be introduced as part of the Swachh Bharat Initiative. Clean and Green Nagaland will be launched so that the message of keeping the environment and habitations clean.
The Government will also introduce a new package of study tours and excursions that will take students on exposure trips to different parts of the country especially the National Capital Region. Every year 100 students will be sponsored to visit New Delhi and other cities to get real life experience of visiting places like the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, Taj Mahal in different batches, he said.
In order to ensure successful implementation of the Government’s policies, programmes and projects, a central monitoring mechanism in the form of a Project Management Board will be set up, Rio assured. This Project Management Board will ensure periodical monitoring of all schemes and projects for successful implementation and timely delivery.
Rio apprised that a total of Rs. 168.64 crores have been earmarked under Non- Development Plans for maintenance of existing Government assets including roads. It will be ensured that this amount is judiciously distributed on the basis of actual requirements.
The Budget proposal is estimated at a total receipts is at Rs. 18,232.51 crores, and total expenditure is at Rs.18305.40 crores for the financial year 2018-19. Rio stated that the transaction for the financial year 2018-19 is estimated to result in a negative balance of Rs. 22.94 crores.
He maintained the implementation of the 7 RoP 2017 as the main reason for the negative balance which will have a huge additional burden. In addition, with the negative opening balance of Rs. 1607.73 crores, the year 2018-19 is estimated to close with a negative balance of Rs. 1630.67 crores.