Kolkata

Free power, cash incentives in Assam budget ahead of polls

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during the Assembly session in Guwahati on Friday.  

The BJP-led government in Assam has announced a slew of cash incentives for almost everyone from school students to the elderly, besides free electricity and a development corporation for indigenous Muslims, apparently with an eye on the Assembly elections next year.

State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday presented a deficit budget of ₹1,249 crore for 2020-21 fiscal after the Opposition Congress staged a walkout against the alleged leaking of the document on the government’s website before his speech. Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami downplayed the issue.

“The budget has two parts – general proposals and tax proposals. The leakage of general proposals is not a breach of privilege,” he said.

Mr. Sarma proposed free electricity to all households with a monthly consumption of less than 30 units.

“About 14 lakh families will benefit from the scheme,” he said. The government would be transferring ₹400 crore to the Assam Power Development Corporation Limited to insulate other consumers from upward revision in tariffs.

The government has also proposed free ride for women and senior citizens in a fleet of dedicated pink buses under a new scheme named Bhraman Sarathi.

The scheme has been extended to the unemployed youth too, but for those appearing in various examinations or for job interviews.

The budget offers a windfall for tea plantation workers and indigenous Muslims. The proposals include transferring ₹3,000 each to the 7,21,485 tea garden workers who had received ₹5,000 during 2019-20 fiscal for “inculcating banking habits”, wage compensation of ₹18,000 in six instalments for pregnant Adivasi women, one-time support of ₹10,000 each for children of plantation workers who pass Class X and Class XII exams, smartphones for some 4,000 tea garden sardars and ₹50,000 as gratuity to tea workers.

“We have made provisions for creating a development corporation for indigenous Muslims in Assam. For this purpose, a socio-economic census of these communities is on a war-footing,” Mr. Sarma said.

For students

Assam has budgeted a substantial amount for students. According to the proposals, ₹1,000 would be provided each to 1 lakh students for textbooks in government-run schools.

The students will be entitled to ₹1,000 per month to cover hostel expenditure and a one-time education loan subsidy of ₹50,000 while top-ranked female students in Class XII will be given scooties.

“We shall be providing ₹40,000 in lieu of 1 tola of gold to newlywed brides with an annual family income of less than ₹5 lakh,” Mr. Sarma said. The elderly have been covered too. “We shall be providing a one-time grant of ₹25,000 to widows ,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 1:52:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/free-power-cash-incentives-in-assam-budget-ahead-of-polls/article31005019.ece

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