Congress LP leader, Nawang Rigzin Jora on Tuesday said that the budget presented by the finance minister is an insult to Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s memory to have a pedestrian budget as a tribute to him.Finance Minister, Haseeb A Drabu who presented the budget on Monday has said that the budget 2016-17 is a tribute to the former Chief Minister Late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.Jora in a statement issued to KNS said that the budget is merely a statement of the restructuring of the accounts of the state. “This could as well have been an accountant's budget or a Munim's budget. Where is the economist Drabu in this budget? Large part of the budget speech was devoted to how we have made a transition from plan/non- plan expenditure to revenue expenditure and capital expenditure accounting, developmental and non developmental finance; streamlining of the GPF funds; problems of cash and liquidity,” he said.
These are things that may be important but not so much as to be to the salient features of the budget pointed out Jora.Jora quoted Drabu from his last year's speech where he said that ‘I shall not go to Delhi with a begging bowl. By doing so, I hope to restore the dignity of the people who are forever being accused of surviving on subsidies and largesse. Jora said “When your own state revenue estimates from tax and non tax is estimated to be a mere Rs 13000 for budget expenditure of Rs 64,669 crores ( FY 2016 -17 ) there is no escaping dependence on the Govt of India.”Fact remains, points out Jora, despite assertion of the Finance Minister of economic self- reliance and financial autonomy, the State's public spending will continue to be driven by central transfer. “This dependence doesn't constitute begging, it is our right as a hilly state with its associate developmental disabilities. The sooner the Finance Minister realizes and recognize this fact, the better it will be for the finance of the State. Rather than wallowing in a delusional world of self- deception it will do a world of good for the fiscal health of the State if Mr Drabu comes out of his fairy-take world and becomes pragmatic and practical,” Jora said.
Jora pointed out that the Finance Minister missed out on great opportunity of introducing gender budgeting. “With Mehboob Ji as Chief Minister, there was the opportunity to introduce gender budgeting with the objective of gender mainstreaming,” he said.He said that gender budgeting could have been an empowering tool to ensure gender equality with transformational impact on the lives of the women who constitute nearly 50% of the population. “The gender initiatives such as construction of women only toilet , women only bus service in Jammu and Srinagar , more women police station are welcome steps but they constitute tokenism compared to the problems of education , health, lack of economic opportunity and lack of access to resources faced by the women folks. Hence, the need for gender budgeting which would have ensured sweeping changes in resource allocation with huge impact on gender equality,” Jora in a statement said.The power woes of the state are too well known to require repetition said Jora.“The unbundling needs to be expedited. There has to be major thrust on generation. There is no good citing the much hyped hydro potential of the state if we cannot harness them for the common good of the masses.
NHPC has refused to return any project,” said Jora.He further said that therefore, the need of the hour is to use a size- able chunk of the Prime Minister's Development fund for power generation suggested Jora.The state must insist that Rs 25000 out of PMDP fund be given to fully fund Bursar, Pakadul and Rattle power project; each of this would be 1000 MW capacity. This will be a transformational initiative said Jora.Not only will we be sufficient in power in the next 7 - 10 years but we shall be power surplus to finance development activities from the revenue of these projects.Jora regretted that this is not happening and it is not just a sorry state of affairs but a missed opportunity. “This budget was not a budget of the Haseeb Drabu, the economist; it is the budget of the Munim and the Accountant in Haseeb Drabu,” he said.He said that budget is not merely a bundle of numbers and statistics, it is bundle of our aspiration and values said Jora. “This budget fails to answer our questions on values of human rights, human dignity, human development and respect and protection of our environment,” added Jora.Jora regretted that the budget levies additional 5% tax on aviation fuel which will cause the already exorbitant airfare to go further up rendering our state less affordable and expensive destination for an average tourist.He accused the Finance Minister of doing great disservice to the tourism industry of the state.Jora also accused Finance Minister of completely ignoring Ladakh region as there was nothing Ladakh specific in this budget. (KNS)