Compensate state for funding hurdles, Mein urges Centre

NEW DELHI, Dec 30: Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein on Thursday pleaded the Centre to consider an appropriate mechanism to fortify the state against the capital, technical and opportunity losses.

Attending the pre-budget Meeting of the Centre convened by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi, Mein while reiterating the non-availability of funding from multilateral development banks and other international financing institutions to Arunachal Pradesh for stated and unstated reasons, requested the ministry to compensate the state through other means.

He suggested the Centre consider providing project-specific grants at the rate of ₹1500 crore per year under any window similar to the erstwhile special plan assistance (SPA).

As an alternative, he also proposed an interest-free 50-year loan at the rate of ₹1500 crore per year over and above the normal borrowing limits prescribed by the FRBM Act for consideration.

Mein also raised the issue regarding the urgency in the development of areas near international borders.

“We have seen unprecedented growth in the border infrastructure during the last 5-7 years. However, the depopulation of border areas for the want of better infrastructure is a reality and poses a serious challenge in the background of a series of model villages and infrastructure being developed across the border with the aim to increase the population,” the deputy chief minister pointed out.

He said the state government is pursuing a composite proposal for border areas including multiple projects like construction of roads, drinking water, health and education infrastructure, installation of micro hydel-power projects and solar streetlights in the border areas.

“Once sanctioned, the project will provide much better infrastructure in the border areas with a resultant boost in the economic activities encouraging the people to return to their native places,” he said and earnestly requested the Centre for early clearance of the project which is under active consideration with the Home Ministry.

Mein also sought for flexibility to be given to NE states to design customised projects in particular sectors wherever the ministries are not able to spend 10% GBS on their earmarked schemes and programmes in the region and to seek funding from the balance of the 10% GBS.

“This will ensure increased capital expenditure in NE and also would not distort the allocations within the specified sectors,” he added.

The deputy chief minister also suggested for the development of manufacturing capacity in the region to create jobs, which in turn would improve the livelihood of the people and impressed upon the Centre to facilitate the creation of investor-friendly frameworks and a specific policy on the lines of Jammu and Kashmir or the Hill States for the NE region.

He also requested the Centre to set up a special task force for improving trade, connectivity and economic infrastructure in the region for providing specific and actionable recommendations for the next ten years.

Mein further requested for doubling of allocations under the schemes of the North-East Council, Department of North-East Region and Border Area Development Programme from the current very low levels.

The deputy chief minister was accompanied by Planning and Investment Commissioner Prashant Lokhande. (PRO)

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