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Budget ‘disappointing’, says Odisha CM; BJP defensive

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 28:

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today expressed utter disappointment over both recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission and lack of any special provision for Odisha in the Union Budget 2015-16 despite the Union Finance Minister’s claim that the focus of this year’s budget is on rapid development of the eastern states.

Naveen Patnaik

“As regards Odisha, I’m deeply disappointed both with the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission and the Union Budget. No central allocation for Nabakalebar 2015 has been made in the Budget even though there has been a flow of resources for improvement of facilities in nine other heritage sites in the country,” Patnaik said in his reaction to the Budget.

The Chief Minister expressed shock over the neglect of Odisha in the Union Budget despite teh fact that it faced two of the worst calamities in the last two years consecutively in the form of Phailin and Hud Hud while  special assistance had been declared for Bihar and West Bengal in the Budget.

“While the Budget indicates a focus on rapid development of Eastern States and special assistance has been declared for Bihar and West Bengal, Odisha has been completely neglected. Our State faced two of the worst calamities in the last 2 years consecutively in the form of Phailin and Hud Hud. At least on this score, Odisha deserved special focus. I am shocked that this fact has been completely overlooked in the Union Budget in spite of our repeated demands”, said Patnaik.

The Chief Minister pointed that the state will be losing on the revenue front as there will be a fall in the tax devolution share because of inclusion of new criteria such as demographic changes and deletion of criteria for fiscal discipline.

“Our share in tax devolution will come down from 4.78% to 4.60%. This will involve a loss of about Rs.4600 crores over a period of 5 years. This is because of the inclusion of new criteria such as demographic changes that covers population as per 2011 census and deletion of the criteria of fiscal discipline,” rued Patnaik.

Patnaik said that Odisha was being penalised for its good performance in fiscal discipline and population stabilisation initiatives.

Commenting on the increase from 32% to 42% in case of central taxes Patnaik said the net positive impact to the state will be minimal.

“We have facts with us which will clearly demonstrate that the net positive impact to the state shall be minimal after the increase from 32% to 42% in case of central taxes. There has been a substantial decrease in overall plan outlay of our state and also at the overall national level.Plan outlay of Rs 4, 65,277.00 crore is even less than the outlay of Rs 4, 67,934.00 crore kept at the level of Revised Estimate 2014-15. State’s share in central taxes in 2014-15 is less than Budget Estimate 2014-15 by Rs 2136.00 crore . In 2015-16 it is far less than Fourteenth Finance Commission recommendation by about Rs.2590.00 crore,” Patnaik elaborated.

Even though there is a talk of focus on irrigation and agriculture in the Budget, the allocation towards these crucial sectors has been abysmally low, he added.

The BJP was, however, predictably suuportive of the budhet and lashed out at the Odisha government for failing to present its demands in the appropriate forum at the appropriate time and remaining content with just writing letters.

“Nabakalebara can be covered under the heritage city yojana. Rs 22 crore has been seraparetly sanctioned for this mega event. An announcement in this regard has been made earlier. Packages are not available simply by writing letters. It has to be placed in the appropriate forum at the appropriate time. We have been always telling them when something is in the state’s interest they should take all parties into confidence and raise the demand collectively before the Centre which will be accepted and they will be successful,” said BJP state unit president K V Singhdeo.

The Congress too lashed out at the Centre calling the Union Budget an “anti-common man budget”.

“This budget is against the common man and against the interests of Odisha. There are no special plans for Odisha while it has special packages and incentives for different states. This budget is against the interests of the state and has nothing for the common man, but is an exercise to reduce the fiscal deficit. It’s opposed to the interests of Odisha,” said OPCC president Prasad Harichandan in his comments on the Union Budget.

In his reaction, former PCC president Niranjan Patnaik said the budget was not at all encouraging and has nothing for Odisha.

“The NDA government talks of the development of eastern India. But while it has announced special packages for the poll-bound states of West Bengal, Bihar and Assam, Odisha has been completely ignored. Is Odisha not part of eastern Odisha and is there no poverty here,” the senior Congress leader said.