GANGTOK, 29 July
The First Session [Part II] of the Tenth Assembly, Budget Session 2019-20 of Sikkim Legislative Assembly has commenced today. The Chief Minister, Prem Singh Tamang [Golay], who is also the Minister In-charge of Finance Revenue and Expenditure Department presented the Estimate of Receipts, Annual Financial Statement, Demands for Grants and Explanatory Memorandum to the Annual Budget 2019-20. While briefly mentioning the budgetary profile for the financial year 2019-20, he stated against gross expenditure provision of Rs 8888.00 crore, the Net outgo comes to Rs 8665.36 crore after taking into account recoveries amounting to Rs. 222.64 crores.
It has been mentioned that the Fiscal deficit remains in adherence to the fiscal management targets set in the Sikkim Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act 2010, i.e. not more than 3% of GSDP. The contribution from own tax Revenue is of the order of Rs. 1220.21 crore and that of Non-Tax revenue Rs. 704.54 crore. The Total Gross Expenditure includes allocations amounting to Rs. 51.49 crore under the dispensation of the North Eastern Council, Rs. 181.39 crore under Non-Lapsable Pool of Central Resources and Rs. 2056.25 under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes. The general discussion on the budget will be held tomorrow on the second day of the House.
The Chief Minister also presented the White Paper on the Expenditure Commitments, Borrowings and Revenue Potential (Volume I and II) in the House. The discussion will be taken up on the second day of the House on Tuesday.
Earlier, the proceedings of the first day of the Budget Session 2019-20 commenced with the address of the Governor Ganga Prasad. In his address, he extended good wishes to the people of Sikkim and expressed hope that the new Government will usher-in happiness and prosperity to the people of the State. Governor took the occasion to condole the sad demise of Sudarshan Agarwal, who served as the Governor of Sikkim from 25.10.2007 to 08.07.2008. He passed away on 03.07.2019 at New Delhi.
He also congratulated the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for recording a second historical win, which he said was special in many ways. He also congratulated the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha Party led by Prem Singh Tamang, who won the elections in Sikkim and formed the Government. He said that this was the beginning of a new era, which would fulfil the expectation and aspirations of the people of the State.
Governor stated that the thrust of the Government would be to take a review of the total committed liabilities of the State, while also addressing the immediate requirements of the State and the people. “Sikkim has evolved as a progressive state with marked improvements in socio-economic indicators, despite facing disadvantages of inadequate connectivity, high cost of infrastructure building and maintenance and difficulties in delivering services to dispersed populations in hilly areas. This budget marks a major milestone in delivering our commitments which are firmly based on prudent public finance management for achieving overall socio-economic development in Sikkim,” stated the Governor in his address.
While highlighting some of the notable achievements of the State in various sectors, the Governor outlined the priority areas incorporated in the Budget. He elaborated on the Government’s vision in the area of skill development & entrepreneurship, education, innovative and high value tourism, and promotion of non-polluting Green Industry. He explained that “Green Industry” is a term which recognizes that in a world of increasing resource scarcity, climate change, pollution and depletion of natural capital, economic growth must rely on clean and efficient production processes.
He also spoke extensively on farmer centric plan and policies envisaged by the government. He said that the Government of India is according high priority for welfare of the farmers and is implementing several farmer’s welfare schemes to revitalize agriculture sector and to improve their economic conditions. He added that the Government has rolled out several new initiatives for the benefit of farmers like Soil Health Card Scheme, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), Pradhan MantriFasalBima Yojana (PMFBY), Interest Subvention Scheme etc. He added that the Sikkim Organic Mission must be taken to its logical conclusion with all out financial, technical and marketing initiatives.
Governor also expressed concern on the high suicide rate and a considerably high degree of substance abuse in the state. Though this has acutely affected families after families and has been a widely discussed issue, expected remedial measures have not been taken, he added. He shared that the Government will devise concrete steps to counter these challenges. He further said that more concerted efforts are required to put the State into a higher growth trajectory. He called upon everyone to pledge to build a better future and take the State towards greater heights. “Though our problems are unique due to our geographical limitations and limited availability of resources, it is our duty to ensure that the fruits of development reach each household in the State. I hope that the deliberations of this budget session will be fruitful towards this end,” he said.
Three bills were placed on the first day of the Budget Session 2019-20 here at Sikkim Legislative Assembly on Monday.
The Sikkim Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced by the Minister for Transport Department, SanjeetKharel. The discussion and voting on the bill will be taken up on 31 July.
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill states that in order to facilitate the general public of Sikkim, the State Government has deemed to expedient to bring about an amendment in the Sikkim Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1982 to introduce the online payment of taxes and a onetime tax consisting of single/lump sum amount payable to the existing annual tax for five years at a time for all categories of vehicles. It is further stated that this amendment would spare the public from the trouble of coming to Motor Vehicle Office every year and this would also reduce the workload of Motor Vehicle Offices and mitigate the in-convenience caused by the annual collection of road tax. The amendment also provides flexible option of paying the tax for one or more quarterly periods, or annually or onetime tax five times of the annual tax either directly at the Regional Transport Office or through online payment, it states.
During the Motion of the Thanks, the CM expressed his gratitude to the Governor on behalf of the members of the House for his address, which was seconded by the Member of the House, AK Upreti.