Assam’s first digital budget promises allowances for sanitary pads, unwed girls


Guwahati, March 12: Umarried orphaned women and teenage girls have been promised allowances by the Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who presented the state budget 2018 for the first time in a digital format on Monday.
Sarma read out the budget, the third for the state’s first BJP-led coalition headed by Sarbananda Sonowal, from a touch-screen tablet, making Assam the third state in the country after Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh to digitize the budget document.
Sarma presented a Rs 2,149 crore deficit budget with an annual outlay of Rs 90,673 crore. Education sector has been allotted Rs 11,570 crore, health Rs 5,082 crore and Rs 1,801 crore for agriculture.
Under a Rs 30 crore scheme, the government promised a sanitary napkin allowance of Rs 50 every month to girls aged 12–20 years hailing from families earning less than Rs 5 lakh annually.
The money will get transferred to their bank accounts. Nearly 5 lakh girls would be covered by this scheme. The benefit would end once they reach 20 years of age.
The government introduced a pension allowance for unmarried women whose both parents have died.
The state will also promote one lakh self-sustainable self-help groups for women through loan and capital subsidy.
“In the 2018-19 budget, there are three stands: ‘ekatrikaran’ — consolidation of policies we have announced and work undertaken in the last two years; ‘xomproxaron’ — expansion and scaling up ambition of our existing programmes; and ‘uttoron’ — raising standards of our pursuance,” Sarma told the House.
Sarma announced a slew of new projects and services, including setting up of 10 new law colleges and allotment of Rs 5 crore each to two model villages in each of the 126 assembly constituencies in the state.
“I have always believed and felt that the day is not far when Assam will be among the top five states in the country in good governance, economic progress, human development indicators and overall happiness quotient of its people,” Sarma said.
Instead of voluminous copies of the budget presented earlier, this year, each MLA was presented with a touch-screen tablet which contains entire details of the financial document.
“The budget copies used to be so heavy that several MLAs, including myself, used to leave them in the assembly itself. Now they will be able to carry the budget with them and check details,” Sarma told journalists on Sunday.
In order to ensure that the MLAs know how to use the device, a training session was conducted in the central hall of the assembly last month. Legislators will be able to use the tablets in the House during discussions on the budget.
Earlier, the rules of the assembly were amended to enable presentation of the budget in digitized paperless format. The budget will also be available in printed format. (Courtesy: HT)