NPF trains gun on budget speech
Kohima, Feb. 14 (EMN): Opposition members on Friday, while participating in the debate on the budget, termed it as ‘hollow, anti-farmers and lacking vision’.
A day after the budget was presented by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, it faced a backlash from the opposition bench for ‘failing to mention major departments, agri-allied sectors’ while putting too much emphasis on entertainment.
Leader of opposition TR Zeliang termed the budget as an “empty bowl” as it does “not spell out any specific policies of the government to be taken up in this financial year”. The speech, he said, contained “too much rhetoric and less substance”. Other than the tax on heavy machinery and the hike in petroleum products, the budget speech ‘focused more on entertainment’, he said.
Zeliang said that there were no mentions of any commitments given by the Finance Commission, ‘which proves that the government failed totally to convince the Commission’.
Not mentioning the RIIN issue was “most disheartening”, according to Zeliang.
Though the government has clearly spelt out the poor financial state of Nagaland, there was no mention of any new investment or projects from outside the state or country, he added.
He also questioned the status of Investment and Development Authority of Nagaland.
Opposition members also pointed out loopholes in law and order situation in the state. Zeliang raised the issue of Lamhai-Namdi, where a mob numbering 40-50 with automatic guns ‘ravaged the village and to this day, there is no report of the action taken on those miscreants’.
Further, goods transporters from outside the state are unwilling to send their trucks to Nagaland as they face untold harassment in the form of illegal taxation, he said. The goods are now unloaded at Khatkati, Assam and only after trucks are hired again from Nagaland, they are brought inside the state, he added.
Zeliang also said there was no mention of any policies or programmes for improvement and enhancement in the agri-allied sector. Without formulating any concrete policies and programmes, Vision 2025 of the state of Nagaland will merely be a piece of paper, he maintained.
In the road sector, Zeliang suggested the minister-in-charge to let a committee look into the two-lane road that has been constructed from Chümoukedima to Patkai Bridge (Chathe River Bridge).
NPF legislator, Chotisuh Sazo said the budget was “anti-farmers, anti-development and hollow”. According to him, the chief minister’s speech failed to touch upon agro-allied sectors and criticised it for neglecting the people. He suggested the government to bring a certified agency from which the farmer’s products can fetch a better price.
Sazo asked the minister-in-charge to look into state-level breeding centres of piglets. In absence of pig-breeding centres, the state is facing difficulties, he said.
‘If law and order is the best in Nagaland, then why has AFSPA been imposed in the state?’ Sazo asked. ‘Why was a human rights activist from Nagaland deported from Kolkata airport when he was on his way to Bangkok? The government has to clarify why he was not allowed to travel internationally,’ he added.
Another NPF MLA Yitach, said that the government of India should take a very careful study of the Indo-Naga issue and ‘resolve when Nagas are coming forward to solve the issue’.
He also raised the issue about law and order situation in border areas. He asserted that ‘government presence should be felt even in the remotest part of the state’.
He went on to say that the budget presentation does not contain any progressive agenda or any industrial activities.
NPF MLA Chumben Murry, said that the budget speech was ‘absurd for including the CAA and Naga political issue’. However, he appreciated the ruling bench for taking a ‘bold step in introducing a new tax on heavy machinery’.
Further, he suggested that tax be collected on commercial buildings.
Another NPF MLA, Imkong L Imchen said that ‘most of the major and important departments were left out’ of the budget speech. Considering the natural occurrences of landslide every year, particularly between Kohima and Dimapur, he suggested that the government work out a formula under one-time dispensation and construct a two-lane road from bypass via Jotsoma.
NPF MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu said that the budget speech was more like an Independence Day and Republic Day speech. YM Yollow requested the government to focus on future generation and work for the Nagas in general. Meanwhile, Amenba Yaden said the budget lacked consistency and appeared like ‘a mere slogan’.
Other members of the opposition who participated in the debate included K Khalo, and V Nakhro. Meanwhile, Advisor Toshi Wungtung, Minister G Kaito Aye, and Minister Jacob Zhimomi participated in the debate from the ruling bench. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio will present his reply on Saturday.