Initiating the discussion on the budget for 2022-23 presented by the chief minister who also holds the crucial finance portfolio, Minister for Planning and Coordination, Land Revenue & Parliamentary Affairs, Neiba Kronu, described it as something new and a shot in the for the youths and the intellectuals who have been waiting in expectation for quite some time.
Kronu said the key features of the budget like micro financing offered opportunity that had not reached the youth until now.
He said prior to this, youths could not start any substantial business under PMEGP, CMCF, SDF etc since the schemes did provide enough fund.
He said under micro financing, interested individuals could start their business by availing money from the banks where village councils or village development boards (VDB) can be guarantors even if there were land issues in particular cases.
Kronu said application forms for these schemes will be distributed at the Deputy Commissioner’s office level in all the districts.
He also pointed out that alongside generating income, the budget 2022-23 was also designed to protect environment as the government had plans to provide money to the Forest department so as to initiate tree planting projects. He said “trees would be our wealth”.
On power projects, Kronu said for years Nagaland had been waiting for clearances for big power projects. Kronu said for the 126 MW power project at Dikhu, the land issue that had been obstructing the project has been settled through the initiative of the Chief Minister.
He said smaller projects like 24 MW at Zungki, 42 MW at lower Tizu would be funded by ADB while 24 MW power project at Tizu valley was also underway. These projects would enable the State to generate power for meeting its requirements instead of having to buy power from neighbouring States as being done presently, Kronu said.
Participating in the discussion, NPF legislator, Dr Chumben Murry, termed the budget as “the most way forward budget in short needs as well as long term concept.” He added that it offered a very synergistic window for discussion of good financial management while at the same time providing for the mass during the fiscal year.
He suggested that the efforts of the government with regard to Naga customary laws should not end with a compilation but strengthening it by having them handle cases of land and property disputes, marital and domestic issue and petty crimes.
He added that the appointment criteria for Goan Buras and Dobashis should also be reviewed so that capable and qualified individual were appointed.
Dr Murry also expressed his inability to understand why the churches were opposing government’s move to amend the infamous Nagaland Total Liquor Prohibition Act. He opined that the government should firmly stand on the ground realities that NLTP Act had been more “deleterious” than being beneficial for the people and amend the it.
Joining the discussion, NPF legislator, Y Vikheho Swu congratulated the government for presenting a zero-deficit budget. He said it signified that the State was progressing especially in revenue sector.
He also pointed out that Power department had also improved its revenue collection as indicated.
Swu suggested that revenue collections alone will not bring about development unless there was investment in human resource development and capacity building.
On demands for districts, Swu opined that a district should not be created on tribal line but on need-basis as there were some sub-divisions like Pughoboto which were in need to be upgraded.
Making observation on Sports, Swu said over and above construction of infrastructures, the government should also focus preparing prepare youths to take up sports as their career.
Getting sponsors for sportspersons to learn from top ranked sports institutes would also help develop talents of the sportspersons, he said.
NPF legislator, Chotisuh Sazo, said even presently 80% of the Naga population depended on Agri and Allied sectors. He said this segment work in these sectors and also rely on the produces from these sectors.
While congratulating the chief minister for allocating a substantial amount in the budget to the sectors, Sazo urged the government to ensure that more funds were allocated to the above sector so as to mitigate the losses incurred due to shortage in rainfall in the year 2021 that affected farmers across the state. In this regard, Sazo said it could be observed with the farmers in Phek who mostly practice terrace cultivation.
He also suggested getting more quantities of food grains to be provided to those who have suffered a heavy due to irregular rainfall.
Speaking on Naga political issue, minister of housing and mechanical, Tongpang Ozukum, said the legislators were also equally concerned about the political issue as any other Naga.
He asserted that all the legislators remain as facilitators as long as they were elected to represent the people.
He lauded the Power department for initiating various projects and also improving its revenue collection. He observed that the pre-paid smart metering system might have helped in checking power theft.
Advisor for Fisheries and Aquatic resources, Evaluation and Economic & Statistics, L Khumo, participating in the discussion said until now there had only been talks about deficit and that this was the first time there had been a significant development where deficit was not talked about.
He said the current budget talks about new plans and programmes which were meant to help alleviate the people.
He observed that the reason for a deficit budget in the previous years was because of failing to religiously follow the systems which were put in place. However, the progress in the budget was a direct result of properly following the system. He thanked the medical department for thoroughly handling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking part in the discussion, NPF legislature party leader TR Zeliang lauded the government of India for recognizing the issue as a “political issue” and not defining it as “internal law and order” issue.
While emphasising on having one solution, Zeliang observed that “giving two agreements and a parallel talk, has created confusion.”
While pointing out that the former interlocutor had said that negotiations concluded in October 31, 2019, Zeliang however said that till today no conclusion could be made.
While acknowledging that the seven NNPG’s were prepared to sign the agreement any moment, however he said the other group could not finalize their issue and somewhere “we are trapped in the dark”.
Zeliang also clarified that his statement of seeking maximum offer from the Centre was about flag and a constitution and not for anything else.
He also claimed that the 60 legislators had come together on the request of the negotiating parties, the seven NNPGs and NSCM (I-M) with the hope and common approach to bring out a solution to Naga issue.
Zeliang supported the implementation of pre-paid metering system for power consumers to boost revenue collection.
Pointing on the need to impart quality education, NPF legislator Amenba Yaden, stressed that several schools in Nagaland had been running without headmaster and necessary staffs and necessary steps have to be taken. He also urged for strengthening the customary courts and institutions, while highlighting the need for a separate high court.
He also raised the issue of Nagaland Paper and Paper Industries Limited (NPCCL). He said out of the Rs.56.60 cr, an amount of Rs.36.76 cr was spent by HPCL/NPPCL and after the submission of detailed report, the Ministry released Rs. 100 cr. However, he there was no response from the Ministry.
Further, NPF MLA, CL John urged all NPGs to unite as one like the UDA, and bring about a joint agreement and send it to the Centre.
NPF legislator, Imkong L Imchen while taking part in the Budget discussion stated that the ministers and advisors in charge of the various departments should discharge their duties and make sure that the funds allotted to the department in the budget were used judiciously. He also congratulated the chief minister for yielding a positive balance of Rs 150.30 crore in the current transaction.
With Data base system introduced various department to check on the illegal and excess appointments which is a wide spread problem across the state, NPF legislator Imkong Imchen, pointed out that cadres of most Naga political groups were also employed under the two or three government departments simultaneously withdrawing salary, and urged the government to address this issue meticulous checking.