TODAY -

Re-activating state economy
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: March 01, 2024 -



RUNNING against the time to finalise their financial plans before the end of current financial year on March 31 and start of a new fiscal year on April 1, most sister states in the Northeastern part of India, with the exception of Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur, have already wrapped the annual budget sessions of their respective state assemblies.

While the eldest sister, Arunachal Pradesh had conducted its assembly session to finalise state budget allocation for the next fiscal year 2024-25 from February 8 to 9 well ahead of other younger sister states keeping in mind the state assembly election scheduled to be held along with the 18th Lok Sabha election sometime in April or May, 2024; the youngest sibling, Sikkim passed its first Supplementary Demands for Grants worth Rs. 190198.94 lakh for the Financial Year 2023-24 during the 7th session (Part III) of its 10th assembly session summoned for only one day on February 12.

On the other hand, the state legislative assemblies of Meghalaya and Assam conducted their budget sessions from February 16-27 and February 5-28 respectively and the fourth session of 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly which commence from February 26 is due to conclude on March 1 after Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented the state's budget for the year 2024-25 on February 27.

That leaves, Mizoram Legislative Assembly, which has already commenced its budget session from February 19 and will continue till March 13; Tripura Legislative Assembly, which will conduct its budget session from March 1 till March 5 and Manipur Legislative Assembly, whose budget session is currently underway from February 28 with leader of the House, Chief Minister N Biren Singh presenting the budget estimates for 2024-25 (Vote on Account) having a total expenditure proposal of Rs 34,040 crore out of the consolidated fund of the State on the first day of the sitting.

It is understandable by why Chief Minister N Biren Singh has put on hold presentation of a full budget until the Union budget is passed later this year for a better coordination with the Centre as the state's fiscal capacity remains hit by the continuing ethnic conflict that broke out between two communities since May 3 last year.

With the state passing through a critical stage, the ongoing budget session of Manipur Legislative Assembly, which will go on till March 5, is very important not only from the point of understanding the current financial health of the state but also for a better grasp on the political turmoil that is churning in the state.

As the Chief Minister had acknowledged in this budget presentation speech itself, the financial year 2023-24 has been the most challenging year for his government with the ongoing unrest taking a heavy toll on the state's economy in multiple ways.

Apart from the law or order issues that affect the normal day-to-day transactions of small-scale businesses, activities related to agriculture and allied sectors, which are considered to the backbone of state's economy, could not be carried out due to the ethnic conflict that has been going on for nearly ten months now with no sign of any abatement nor any solution in sight.

Taking this into consideration as well as the trend of tax and non-tax collection so far, the Chief Minister has also not ruled out the possibility of losing fiscal resources to the tune of Rs 800 crore during the current financial year.

This in any way does not portent well for a perennially resource-starved state which depends on the central government for funding and other economic packages to bail out itself from the financial rut.

And, the situation is only going to exacerbate by the prevailing political turmoil even if the central government is ready to extend additional support to help the state to tide over its financial shortages.

Nonetheless, as they say, it takes more effort to be a pessimist than to be an optimist, the Government of Manipur needs to activate the proposed six committees comprising officials, academicians and civil society members to guide the state back on the path of development, sooner the better.



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