Nagaland CM present tax-free, deficit budget, stressses on start-ups

Neiphiu Rio Chief Minister of Nagaland

Kohima,  Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday presented a Rs 1,661.68 crore deficit, tax-free budget for 2019-20 fiscal with a focus on encouraging start-ups and skill development to generate jobs.

Tabling the budget on the fourth day of the ongoing session, Rio, who holds the Finance portfolio that said, the first priority of the government is to improve town roads after seeing and experiencing their acute state of neglect and the hardships the public were facing on a daily basis.

“The duty of any government of the day is to ensure that people have a reasonable standard of road infrastructure and will continue to work to provide good roads in all parts of the state,” he said.

Noting that the current financial year 2018-19 will close with an estimated deficit of Rs 1,661.68 crore, Rio said the current year’s transaction are estimated to result in a positive balance of Rs 49.70 crore.

He also told members of the assembly that the state government has submitted a memorandum to the Fifteenth Finance Commission for pre-devolution deficit grant of Rs 71,329 crore for the period from 2020-21 to 2024-25.

In addition, the government have also submitted proposal for funds, amounting to Rs 13,390 crore, for critical infrastructure for this period, he said.

Rio said that Nagaland’s adverse financial position is mainly on account of the huge number of government employees, whose salary requirements consume much of the funds that could otherwise have been used for developmental activities.

“This is an area that needs to be improved. We cannot continue to sacrifice our developmental requirements solely to pay salaries, and a time will come when we will have to cut down the number of government employees to set aside our scarce resources to fund more productive activities,” he told the assembly.

With saturation of employment in the government sector, Rio said the government has already approved the Nagaland Start-up Policy with the vision to establish the state as a model start-up leader in the region, by creating a culture of entrepreneurship that nurtures creative and innovative youth, allowing them to build successful start-up companies, become job creators and contribute towards building a healthy and sustainable economy.

The objective of the policy is to facilitate the growth of at least 500 start-ups in the next five years, with a focus on establishing innovative “Made in Nagaland” products and services, he added.

The Chief Minister said that the new policies to be introduced are a Nagaland Innovation Fund, and a Nagaland Investor Network, creating Entrepreneurship Incubators and setting up Entrepreneurship Development Centres in school. The policy seeks to promote women entrepreneurship by earmarking 25 per cent of funds for start-ups led by women entrepreneurs.

Several exercises in the field of skill development in both the rural and urban sector are to be undertaken, he said.

Capacity building exercises form an important part of the activities of all the major government departments, and skill development initiatives under customized P3 programmes are creating significant employment opportunities, especially in the construction sector, Rio added.