Mrunal Manmay Dash

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is critical of the Union Budget for overlooking the Odisha’s interest by charging that the Centre has adopted a discriminatory approach in rural housing sector by ignoring the genuine demands of the State.

Even as he welcomed the increased allocation under Jal Jeevan Mission and PMAY, Patnaik said the Centre has neglected the genuine demands of sanctioning more houses for tribals and the poor under the rural housing scheme. “While the same is considered for other states,” he said.

He however, hoped that the Centre would rectify this alleged injustice.

In a reference to the demand of special assistance for the State, Patnaik, in a statement, said, “Odisha is the only state in the country which is more frequently affected by natural calamities and our repeated demand for special consideration in this regard has not been addressed in the Budget.”

Giving a thumbs down to the Budget, the CM said that the middle class and poor people are heavily impacted by price rise and inflation. “This Budget has not addressed price rise being faced by people. To compound this further, there is a sharp decline in LPG subsidy. This will affect household economics very badly and women will bear the brunt of LPG price rise,” he said, adding that the sectoral allocation has been slashed in critical sectors like agriculture and farmers’ welfare, higher education, rural development and women & child development.

“This could hamper inclusive growth. Reduction in MGNREGS in a pandemic situation is not going to help poor people,” the CM said.

Focusing on the squeeze of devolution of Central taxes to the State, he said, “The increasing level of cess and surcharge is shrinking the mandated transfers of share tax due to the states. More than 20 percent of the Union Taxes are proposed to be collected through levy of cess and surcharge which is against the spirit of co-operative federalism.”

Shifting his attention to the contentious paddy procurement issue, Patnaik said, “Already, there are serious issues of offtake by FCI leading to dislocation in paddy procurement. Further, reduction in food subsidy under NFSA will put farmers in serious trouble. This needs to be reconsidered,” Patnaik added.

However, the Patnaik heaped praises on the budget for focusing on technology and infrastructure led growth, and said that it will have a positive impact. “Proposed technology led development in health and education will help the country to a large extent in this pandemic situation. The Production Linked Initiative schemes in fourteen sectors and extension of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme would be helpful in mitigating supply side constraints,” he said.

Expressing his happiness over Government of India recognizing the importance of millet in the Union Budget in the context of declaration of 2023 as International Year of Millets by United Nations, Patnaik said, “Odisha Millet Mission has been a game changer in promoting nutritional security and augmenting farmer’s income.”