Himanta to table maiden digital budget today  

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, March 11: Assam will be the first state in India to put its budget in the public domain via Google app, informed Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Addressing newsmen in Guwahati on Sunday, Sarma said that while Assam is the second state after Andhra Pradesh to prepare an e-budget, it will be the first to put it in public domain.

“This time, every MLA will get a tablet which will contain the entire budget. Earlier, MLAs were given the copy of the budget speech which the minister reads in the assembly. But the budget speech is just 5 per cent of the entire budget,” he said.

“Most legislators would look at just the speech. Some serious MLAs would collect the entire budget and take it home, but most wouldn’t do that. So, this time we have decided to give the entire budget in one tablet,” he said adding of course, there will be the printed version also for those who are not comfortable with tablets.

Himanta added that the budget would also be published as a supplementary in all the leading newspapers of the state.

“In this way, we will be able to reach people living in far flung areas. We will also be giving live updates on the budget in Facebook and Twitter from 10.30 am tomorrow. This will help those living outside the state to know about the budget,” he said.

He said that the government had sought suggestions from over 1000 commoners of the state and most suggestions received were connected with sectors like environment, urban development and education.

The finance minister also informed that the GDP of the state has increased by 15 per cent in 2016-17 compared to the year 2015-16. He also said that around 65 per cent of the Budget Expenditure Plan of 2016-17 will be achieved which will be more than what Congress had spent in its last ten years.

When asked why maximum budget has been allocated for education and health, two portfolios which he holds, Himanta said, “Education and health are two of the most vital departments for the government. 50 per cent of government employees work in education department, 20 per cent work in health, 20 per cent work in police and rest of the 10 per cent work in other departments combined. So under the tenure of every government, maximum budgetary allocation has been made in sectors like health, education and home. This is not because I am holding these portfolios. Anyway, this money doesn’t go to home.”


HS question paper leak

When asked about alleged leak of Higher Secondary question papers, Sarma, who holds education portfolio, said that he had asked the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) to finish its ongoing probe within seven days and share the report with the media.

“I spoke to AHSEC chairman Dayananda Buragohain in the morning. I have told him to ensure that the report of the ongoing investigation committee comes out within a week. Once the report comes out, I have told him to call a press meet and inform the journalists about the findings so that all doubts are cleared,” he said.

The education minister, however, said the AHSEC chairman categorically maintained that there was no leak of question papers.

“Dayananda Buragohain himself is a very senior educationist and I couldn’t reject his views. So, I told him that the probe should be completely neutral,” Sarma said.

Sarma also advised the AHSEC to postpone the examinations if necessary.

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