.........BHUBANESWAR: Even as two days remain for the Union Budget to be placed in Parliament, the State Government expects liberal funding by the Centre in the social sector and enhanced allocation in the railway budget.The Centre should give more importance to social sector in the ensuing budget as states like Odisha are implementing different programmes with much financial constraints because of funds cut, Finance Minister Shashi Bhusan Behera said.
Behera said many welfare programmes and social sector projects launched by the State Government are facing serious difficulties for implementation because the Centre slashed financial assistance from many of these schemes. Though the State Government has continued implementation of these programmes from its own resources, it is facing difficulties as the stateís finances have also not recovered fully as the mining sector is yet to look up, he said.
Stating that there should be an advance indication about the annual allocation of Central assistance for each state at the time of budget formulation so that the administrations would be able to prepare their budgets on a realistic basis, the Minister said the release of funds should also match the allocation. Inadequate flow of funds in the schemes such as National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Scholarship for SC and ST students, Integrated Child Development Programme (ICDS) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) have affected implementation of the schemes.
The Finance Minister said in the railway sector also the Government expects enhanced allocations, he said and referred to the letter written by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal demanding provision of `6,500 crore in the sector.
Behera had also demanded, at the pre-budget consultation meeting held at New Delhi on January 18, a change in sharing pattern of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to 90:10. As per the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission (FFC), the sharing pattern of SDRF should be changed from 75:25 to 90:10 once the GST is in place. As the GST has been implemented from July 1, 2017, the sharing pattern may be changed to 90:10 between Centre and State, and the Centre should release its share accordingly, he said.Besides, the Odisha Government has also demanded setting up of a Credit Guarantee Fund for loans for agriculture and allied sectors. The Minister said availability of bank credit without collateral and third party guarantees would go a long way in providing access to long term credit for the farmers for capital investment as well as working capital to set up enterprises in the agriculture and allied sectors.
The other demands include establishment of Eastern Industrial Corridor between Visakhapatnam and Kolkata through Odisha, provision of sufficient funds for development and maintenance of National Highway and estimation of central share of Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme(AIBP) projects at realistic level.