Kohima, 29 February (MTNews): Expressing appreciation to the Members of the 14th NLA for their positive and active participation during the general discussion on the budget for the year 2024-25, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio assured that the insightful views and suggestions on various issues of the State will be looked into and followed by action wherever necessary. He made this statement during the third day of the 4th session of the 14th Assembly on 29th February 2024.

Rio observed that most departments are slow in issuing work orders, and the commencement of works for which funds have been allocated often occurs during the closing months of February/March of the financial year. He noted that such practices slow down the pace of developmental activities. He urged all concerned to understand that once funds are reflected in the Demands for Grants, especially under State Resources, there should be no worry on the part of the department about not receiving the funds subsequently. This is because finances are now more stable, and the Government will have no difficulty in making releases to the departments, subject to the condition that there is sufficient progress in the work.

The Chief Minister proposed that the Budget be presented and passed in the month of February every year. This would allow departments to complete all formalities earlier than before, issue work orders by the end of April before the onset of the monsoon, and submit Utilization Certificates (UCs) on time to help departments avail the next installment.

Rio emphasized the importance of ensuring that the allocation of Rs 180 crore for the development of Eastern Nagaland districts is judiciously used to derive the maximum impact. He requested all Legislators from Eastern Nagaland to extend their full cooperation, support, and to monitor and ensure proper implementation of the projects funded from the allocation.

The Chief Minister acknowledged the need to monitor the supply of power through a single point for every citizen, ensuring they pay for the power they consume. He called for sensitization of the villages and diligence on the part of the Power department. Rio also expressed his agreement with MLA Naiba Konyak on the suggestion of amending the Communitisation Act to bring it up to date with present realities and to redress any deficiencies in the Act.

Regarding the suggestion of enhancing the allocation for Border Areas by MLA Achumbemo Kikon, Rio stated that the matter will be examined. He also urged all developmental departments to allocate their resources to develop necessary infrastructure and utilities in the Border Areas.

In his concluding remarks, Rio mentioned that the State struggled with a very high accumulated deficit of Rs 2363 crore during the year 2021-22 (RE). Over the years, through various austerity measures such as checks on filling up vacant posts and steps to enhance its own revenues, as well as an increase in the share of central taxes, the State has now managed to bring it down substantially. As a result, during the current financial year 2023-24, the closing deficit has been reduced to Rs 885.94 crore, representing an improvement of Rs 1477 crores, he stated.

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