Assam to set up committee to tackle recession

Guwahati, Feb 26 : Assam government would constitute an economic committee to suggest measures to help it tackle the current global economic meltdown, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Thursday.

The committee to be set up within a month would be headed by the Chief Minister, it would suggest measures on withstanding the impact of the economic meltdown, on ways to improve revenue collection and plugging loopholes. It would also find ways to increase investment and employment avenues, Gogoi told reporters here.

While suggesting that the global scenario does not seem to improve next year, he said, "We have calculated the state will lose Rs 1100 crore from reduced oil royalty due to fall in oil prices, Rs 600 crore from devolution of state's share of Central taxes and Rs 400 crore from Assam's own tax collection."

He also asked for an economic stimulus from the Centre, while warning that there might be job losses.

"I will also take up with the Centre for extra funds for rural infrastructure development, investment in rural and urban housing, relaxation of cap on loan for certain areas, join hands with the private sector for taking loans in various sectors, relaxation of norms of government to create jobs," Gogoi added.

To a querry on the present economic condition of the state, Gogoi said, "We have a comfortable financial year ahead. We have had no overdraft since the last four years".

"Assam is far better off than other states. We are ranked third in a recent report on the state's capacity to make the Sixth Pay Commission salaries," he asserted.

On the infrastructure and social sector development projects, he said that the plan size and investments would increase next year.

Concessions to lure investors, new industrial and tourism policies, demanding a special package for agriculture to give investors more profit, improving riverine, rail and surface transport system, would be the other measures to minimise the affect of global recession, Gogoi said.

He said that it is important for "the government also to become a businessman," to increase its revenue and consolidate its finacial position.

"Instead of the private parties, the government will buy up the land along the bypasses and sell the land later."

He also declared that his government was in favour of creation of a second legislative council if the Centre bears 50 percent of the expenditure.

The government would also create advisory separate councils for rural, women, youth and linguistic minority development.