CM pushes aggressively for increase in Central Assistance

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NEW DELHI, June 9 (MIC): Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh who also holds the Finance portfolio has stressed upon the importance of Central Assistance for State Plan for development of Manipur.

Speaking at the Union Finance minister’s Pre-Budget Consultations with Finance ministers of all States and Union Territories in connection with the forthcoming Union Budget 2014-15 held at Banquet Hall of Hotel Ashok here today, he said, “With the State’s own resources constituting just about 10 percent of the total revenue receipts on account of reasons peculiar to the State as also the NE Region, Central Assistance for State Plan has always occupied a pre-eminent position in financing our developmental needs.”

“Given the almost complete absence of large private sector investment in the State, you will agree with me that Central funding is the only way out to meet the growing aspirations of our people.”

The meeting was chaired by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The Chief Minister elaborated that the Special Plan Assistance (SPA) and Special Central Assistance (SCA) constituted an important plan resource base for the State of Manipur.

He said “With SPA funds, we are implementing several key projects in the State for road connectivity, health infrastructure, administrative infrastructure, agricultural productivity, irrigation potential, etc. To complete these projects and to undertake new ones, the present annual allocation of Rs. 450 crore needs to be raised to Rs.600 crore.”

He stated that due to the need to provide State matching share for CSS/Flagship programs, the SCA funds were getting earmarked for the purpose leaving limited scope for utilising them for State run programmes. He drew the attention of the Union Finance Minister to increase the allocation under SCA to Rs. 1000 crore from the present Rs. 800 crore.

Referring to the State’s resource crunch, he said, “The finances of my State are passing through an extremely critical phase. In two of the last three fiscals, we closed with overdrafts in our account. That we experienced repeated overdrafts indicate that there are underlying structural imbalances in the State’s finance, with expenditure commitments exceeding our receipts. We have rationalized our expenditure and initiated concrete steps to generate additional resources. However, as our resource base is very narrow, we continue to suffer on account of huge gap in our resources. We need your support and assistance to overcome this challenge.”

The Chief Minister mentioned that the resource crunch largely arose following implementation of the 6th Pay Commission’s recommendations.

“This got further compounded as our unavoidable security and developmental imperatives necessitated fresh appointments in Police, Education and Health departments and in the Tribal Autonomous District Councils in the hill districts.”

He also highlighted the grossly inadequate Non-Plan Revenue Gap Grant provided by the 13th Finance Commission and requested the Centre to allocate a sum of at least Rs. 1000 crore during 2014-15 as interest free advance to partially bridge the resources gap left uncovered by the 13th Finance Commission and to compensate for the developmental resources displaced by the rising non-plan expenditures.

Referring to the constitution of the 7th Central Pay Commission by the Union Government, Manipur Chief Minister expressed his hope that the Union Government would adequately support fiscally weak states for any shortfall in resources arising out of the implementation of another pay revision.

Talking about the infrastructure projects taken up under Central Sector, the Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh stated, “The State Government has made sustained efforts for timely completion of critical projects taken up under Central Sector.”

“The construction of the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal Railway Line Project, a National Project, is expected to lead to a paradigm shift in our socio-economic polity on its completion.”

He appealed to the Union Finance Minister to provide the required funds in the Budget 2014-15 for timely completion of the National Projects.

He placed the information that the expansion of Imphal Airport to International Airport was another Central Sector project.

The project was integral to the success of the “Look East Policy”. It was taken up in 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs. 128.79 crores. The State Government acquired 690 acres of land and handed it over to Airport Authority India in 2008, he said.

A sum of Rs 97.04 crore was spent on the project. However, works had suffered considerably because of lack of funds, he continued.

He further urged the Union Minister to provide adequate funds for its timely completion.

The Chief Minister said, “An efficient road network is essential to maintain national integration and socio-economic development. To reap the benefit of the Golden Quadrilateral network of highways, there is an urgent need for up-gradation and expansion of NH-2, NH-37 and NH-202 that passes through Manipur. Furthermore, Manipur is today poised to be the “Gateway to South East Asia” and keeping in mind the Look East Policy, it would be necessary that due attention is focused at upgrading the road connectivity to Moreh.”

He further stated, “Moreh is the border town for development of trade between India with Myanmar and other South East Asian nations. The existing town is small, unplanned and undeveloped and does not measure up to the requirements of a vibrant trading hub.” He proposed to have a New Moreh Township to develop a habitation with necessary infrastructure for setting up export oriented units and trading centres /facilities for which 3000 acres of land had already been identified. The State would need funding for this Township to the tune of Rs. 1647 crore.

The Chief Minister also drew the attention of the Union Finance Minister to continue funding and support the important Central Sector Projects like Construction of the Rail-Fed Oil Depot at Imphal by the Indian Oil Corporation for increasing the storage capacity of POL products; Construction of Foodgrain Godowns by the FCI at all outlying District HQs.; Priority and full funding of the NIT, Manipur; and Expediting and full funding of India’s only integrated Check Post (ICP) at Moreh on the border with Myanmar. He underlined that those projects were vital for the State’s development and inclusive growth of all ethnic communities in the State.

Barun Mitra, Principal Secretary (Finance), accompanied the Manipur Chief Minister in the meeting.

 

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