Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for financial support to the state over a period of five years to boost revenue generation efforts of the state government.
Sonowal met the Prime Minister in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum and White Paper on the state’s finances. This was the first meeting between the two leaders after Sonowal took charge as Assam Chief Minister.
During their 25-minute meeting, the Chief Minister pointed out the state’s precarious financial condition with about Rs 10,000 crore committed liabilities it has inherited from the previous government. Sonowal said the state government has been shifting focus to augment internal resources without depending on the central government alone.
“However, the state’s existing precarious financial position has necessitated special support from the Centre, more so during the transitional phase,” Sonowal said.
The Chief Minister further pointed out that his government has been trying to tap the inner strengths of the state within its limited capacity and generate internal resources, attract investments and build on the core strengths.
“Our government has decided to surge ahead with Restructuring Systems and Technology for Augmentation of Resources for Transformed Assam (ReSTART Assam) to mop up maximum possible resources through a coordinated and concerted mission mode programme with four-pronged action plan,” Sonowal said.
Pointing out that the time-bound action plan would bear fruit only after two to three years, the Chief Minister said in the interim period when there is a need to focus on development, the state needs about Rs 10,000 crore to honour the committed liabilities accumulated over a period of time and other liabilities arising out of pay revision of the employees.
The Chief Minister also requested the Prime Minister for financial assistance for infrastructure projects such as roads, power and IT as well as the service sector.
Sonowal requested the Prime Minister to release Rs 10,000-crore crude oil royalty to the state and to use his good offices to ensure the price of crude oil at pre-discounted rate as has been the case with Gujarat following an interim order of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Minister pleaded for early release of Rs 1,226 crore that the Ministry of Water Resources owes to the state under the Flood Management Programme (AIBP-FMP).
“Assam has been deprived to a great extent which is evident from the fact that while the state was awarded a revenue deficit grant of only Rs 3,379 crore during 2015-20, smaller states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir were rewarded handsomely by 14th Finance Commission,” he said while urging the Prime Minister to allot Rs 5,000 crore annually as a special one-time revenue deficit grant so that the state can take up development projects as envisaged in the Vision Document 2016-2025.
After meeting the Prime Minister, Sonowal also met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at his official residence and discussed a gamut of issues regarding the state’s present financial position and the need for the Centre to come up with special assistance to help the state tide over the crisis.