Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh urges Delhi for additional assistance

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NEW DELHI, Jan 19 MIC: Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who holds the charge of finance portfolio today, urged the Central Government for extending a special additional assistance to Manipur to meet the additional expenditures created due to implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations in the State.
Attending the Pre-Budget Meeting of the State Finance Ministers with the Union Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherjee in the Chair at Vigyan Bhawan here today, Manipur Chief Minister stated that impact of revision of pay and pension resulted in considerable increase of non-plan revenue expenditure. The 13th Finance Commission did not fully factor in the actual non-plan requirements of the State in their award. Under the scenario, the state could be facing great difficulty to provide adequate funds for capital expenditure.
Referring to the price rise of essential commodities and its serious impact to the common people, O. Ibobi Singh said that States like Manipur, where the cost of goods and services was already very high due to geographical isolation, poor connectivity and high transportation costs,  had been badly affected. He mentioned that the poor quality of National Highways and regular disruptions along the Highways in the State affected the free flow of goods into the State and the absence of rail connectivity aggravated the situation. The Chief Minister demanded to provide a special grant for upgradation of National Highway 39 into a four-lane highway and National Highway 53 into a fully developed two-lane highway in the State and completion of the Jiribam- Imphal Rail line by an early date. Besides, he also urged upon the Union Government to consider setting up more warehousing facilities for storage of food grains, fuel and domestic LPG in the State so that adequate buffer stocks could be maintained.
Manipur Chief Minister said that balanced development of the hills and valley in Manipur was a top priority for the State Government. Due to special effort on the part of the State Government and the desire of the people in hill areas; the State government conducted elections to the Autonomous District Councils successfully after the gap of more than two decades and those councils were fully functional today. To upgrade the existing educational and health infrastructures in the hills, the State Government recently made a conscious decision of filling up large number of vacant and newly created posts in the health and education sector and thus it increased pressure on the non-plan finances of the State. He urged upon the central government to evolve a special mechanism of funding those additional non-plan requirements of the state Government in the Union Budget for 2011-12.
Manipur Chief Minister also mentioned that on the basis of availability of security and premises, the State Government in consultation with RBI and SBI, prepared an agreed list consisting of 10 proposed l9ocations for opening of new bank branches to cover all the unbanked blocks in Manipur by 2011-2012. He demanded to the union Government to include identified three locations at Somsai, Tuibong and Tadubi in 2010-11 and the remaining seven locations in 2011-2012. He also stressed the need for opening of more ATMs in the State by all banks present in Manipur. Only 31 ATMs were in the entire State. ATM kiosks in Manipur were always crowded and people had to spend hours for withdrawing their money. He demanded for consideration of funding for a Special Force that could be raised by the State Government exclusively for providing bank security.
Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh suggested to the Finance ministry for setting up a corpus fund to assist the States maintaining a higher level of forest cover towards environment protection. He also drew the attention of the Union Government for timely release of funds by the Finance and other Ministries for timely completion the projects, considering that working season in the northeastern States was only upto mid-April.
During his stay in the national capital, the Chief Minister met the Minister of Home Affairs P. Chidambaram on January 17 at 3 pm. On January 18, he met Union Minister of
Food and Consumer Affairs Sharad Pawar at 9.30 am, Union Minister of Culture Kumari Shelja at 12 noon, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at 4.30pm and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at 9 pm.

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