Budget Big-Day on Feb 1: Tripura wish lists push for consumption boosting

Agartala, Jan 21, 2021, ENEWSTIME Desk


#Jaydip Chakrabarti

After Vax D-Day, it’s time for Budget big-day on February 1 next. Breaking some well observed age-long tradition, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present a ‘paperless’ budget 2021-22 in the Parliament amidst heightened expectations.

Already, pre-budget parleys have started and in one such event, our Deputy Chief Minister, also the Finance Minister Jishnu Dev Varma joined Sitharaman in a video conference and made a slew of significant suggestions to trigger revival of the State economy in the wake of Covid19 pandemic.

A closer look at his Budget wish list reveals his focus on boosting consumption and actualization of job-creation through infra sectors.

Jishnu Dev Varma in his 7-point wish list made at least 5 specific suggestions that would help to circulate money among the low-income and lower-middle-income groups of the society and give a push to overall demand and consumption.

Varma’s wish list for Budget centered on two pivots – Revenue receipts and fund allocation for infra projects.

While revenue side wish list mentioned Central assistance to fill up shortfall of share of Central Taxes to the tune of Rs 2636 crore during 2020-21 FY. And, Dev Varma also sought for financial package for the 6th Schedule Area – TTAADC.

On Infra projects front, Jishnu Dev Varma’s wish list aims at ensuring much needed money flow and he started with activities pertaining to basic Infra activities like road renovation and repair.

He sought maintenance grants to upkeep assets like PMGSY roads. There are 2550km PMGSY roads which were constructed, at least 5 years ago, and now require repair works. Besides, he also batted for “continuation of special assistance for infrastructure Creation Fund from Central Government of Rs 200 cr” and changing funding pattern of Externally Aided Project (EAP) from existing 80:20 to 90:10 in favour of the State.

“No doubt, if Dev Varma’s request gets Sitharaman’s nod, it will unleash a flurry of infra activities in the State benefitting people of lower income strata. Traditionally, propensity to consume among these classes is very high. So, Dev Varma’s proposals are expected to trigger immediate demand-spark which is necessary for revival of the market economy”, Agartala based economics experts opined.

Along with stress on the infra sector, Dev Varma also made another significant request – hike in pay of ASHA workers and increment in Social pensions. In Tripura, ASHA workers contribution in providing health services, in rural and hilly areas, is undeniable and an increase in their allowances will motivate them and help to curtail disease related man-days loss.

In a recent programme, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb commented that the economy of the State had become resilient during Covid19. In this connection, experts argued that the resilience was observed due benevolence of people.

“During covid induced lockdown when economic activities came to an agonizing halt, numerous NGOs, organizations and individuals distributed essential commodities – rice, dal, cooking oil, soyabeans, vegetables, cooked food items, soaps, masks, sanitizers etc. Normally, consumption of these items would have fallen drastically among larger sections of society. However, benevolence kept the market afloat – through purchasing essential commodities from the market - during difficult times'', experts explained and added, with normalcy during post-Covid period is returning it is imperative that Government ensure a big push in aggregate demand to put back the growth engine on faster track.

In view of this argument, Jishnu Dev Varma made a meticulously thought wish list for the upcoming Union Budget, informed sources opined.

#Jaydip Chakrabarti may be contacted at jaydipsoma@gmail.com