BHUBANESWAR: Even as several demands of the State Government including opening of more bank branches in unbanked gram panchayats and compensation for reduction of CST rates to pave the way for implementation of GST were overlooked in the Union Budget 2017-18, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced setting up of a crude oil reserve at Chandikhole in Odisha.
The proposed five million tonne capacity crude oil reserve will have an investment of Rs 5000 crore. “For strengthening our energy sector, Government has decided to set up Strategic Crude Oil Reserves. In the first phase, three such reserve facilities have been set up. In the second phase, it is proposed to set up caverns at two more locations at Chandikhole in Odisha and Bikaner in Rajasthan,” Jaitley said. The railway sector is also going to get a boost with an allocation of Rs 5102 crore for Odisha, the highest ever. Provision for railway sector of Odisha in 2016-17 and 2015-16 budget was Rs 4682 crore and Rs 3712 crore respectively.
Besides, the Finance Minister announced that completion of 200 years of Paika Mutiny, known to be the first freedom struggle of India, will be celebrated to commemorate the courageous uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu in Khordha district of Odisha against British in 1817. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik described the 2017-18 budget as a mixed bag which fell short of expectations on many counts.
Not much has been done to address the adverse impact of demonetisation, Naveen said and added that specific concerns of Odisha relating to development of KBK region, opening of bank branches in unbanked gram panchayats and meeting of developmental aspirations of SCs and STs have not been addressed.
The State Government was also banking on scheme related transfers from the Centre. This has increased at a meagre 5.5 per cent over the previous budget, the Chief Minister said and added that considering inflation, there is no increase at all. Allocation of funds for schemes relating to rural roads, rural drinking water, education, midday meal programme and urban development is almost stagnant, he said and added that there is no increase in the provision for special Central assistance to States for the welfare of the SCs as well as social security pension under the National Social Assistance Programme.
Though the Chief Minister welcomed the increase in allocation for Odisha in the railway sector, he expressed concern that budgetary provisions are not being spent fully. “In 2016-17, only 39 per cent of the allocation had been spent till December, 2016,” he said. He also expressed concern over lack of any initiative for job creation for youths and said adequate focus has not been given to this.
Finance Minister Pradip Amat said the State Government had high expectations that after demonetisation, the Union Budget would contain appropriate policy measures to address its adverse consequences and revive the growth momentum in the economy through increased public spending in the social and infrastructure sectors. “The Union Budget, 2017-18 is disappointing on both the counts,” he said.