Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik rejects populist budget, slams Modi Govt for poor assistance to Odisha

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday expressed disappointment over the interim budget of the Centre for 2019-20 by giving only 2.5 points out of ten as he said it has ignored several key areas like rural connectivity, rural housing and drinking water besides not revising old age and other pensions.

The Chief Minister, however, welcomed the Pradhan Mantri Kissan Samman Nidhi, the direct benefit transfer proposed for small and marginal farmers announced in budget on lines of the KALIA scheme. He said it would have benefited the farmers more if the quantum of assistance would have been more or equal to the KALIA scheme launched by the Odisha Government.

Farmers would get Rs 10,000 per year in two instalments under KALIA while the central scheme has made a provision of Rs 6000 for farmers with less than two acres of land in three instalments. Naveen said that there is nothing for landless poor, share croppers and farmers in distress in the scheme announced in the interim budget.

Naveen said that some initiatives taken in the MSME sector is encouraging, though these would not suffice to meet the needs of employment generation in the country. Expressing his ‘deep disappointment’ with non-revision of old age and other pensions, he said the Odisha government is covering 48 lakh beneficiaries with a provision of Rs 500 per month while the Centre is providing Rs 200 per month for 20 lakh beneficiaries only.

“I am also disappointed with the allocation for ST and SC welfare both in infrastructure and education. We have been requesting to restore the scholarship funds for SC students which has not been done,” he said.

Stating that the allocation for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) which is lower than the revised estimates for last year will affect timely wage payments, the Chief Minister said provision on rural connectivity, rural housing and drinking water have been reduced or remained at previous level. “This is not encouraging,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that the State will get less funds than what has been recommended by the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC). The FFC recommended transfer of rupees one lakh eighty four thousand seventy crores during the award period from 2015 to 2020. However, based on actual receipts for 2015-18, revised estimates for 2018-19 and budget estimates for 2019-20, Odisha will receive only rupees one lakh fifty seven thousand eight hundred twenty eight crore, a shortfall of `26342 crore, he said.

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