Guwahati: The Budget 2019-20 drew a mixed response in Assam on Friday.
While industry bodies as well as political parties hailed the Budget proposals on certain aspects, many of them were critical as there is no mention about the tea industry in Assam, which is suffering due to several problems, and also over lack of concrete steps on 'Act East' policy.
President of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Atul Bora termed the Budget proposals as people-oriented aimed at strengthening the base of state's rural economy.
"While the Budget has provisions for revolutionary changes in agricultural sector, it also mentioned steps to strengthen women empowerment and solving the unemployment problem," said Bora, also a minister in the BJP-led government in Assam.
The opposition Congress, on the other hand, slammed the proposals, saying it these were full of ornamental words.
"The Finance Minister has mentioned about $ 5 trillion economy by 2015, but they have failed to give a roadmap for this. They spoke about clean rivers and talked about the Ganga only. Why are the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers not included? They spoke of youth, but there is no scheme on how to create jobs for the youth," said Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora.
Federation of Industries and Commerce for North East India (FINER) hailed the Budget for provisions made on agriculture as well as MSME sector. "This is a good Budget for MSME sector and agriculture. However, we expected some announcements for the tea industry of Assam, which is suffering due to several reasons," said FINER member R.S. Joshi.
Joshi also said that there should have been some concrete announcements regarding the 'Act East' policy.
"Assam and the north-east India as a whole has tremendous potential for tea tourism. Tea tourism could be the much needed way to bring in tourists from the South East Asian neighbours. But there is no mention about it in the Budget," said adviser of North East Tea Association (NETA) Bidyananda Barkakoty.
He said that the survival of the tea industry is at stake now. "There is a demand and supply mismatch. There is no demand as per the supply. So, a budgetary allocation for generic promotion of Assam tea was expected in the Budget," he said, adding tea planters also expected a reduction of interest rate or a subsidy on interest rate on working capital, which would have been of great relief to the industry," said Barkakoty.