SIKKIM LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY PASSES ANNUAL GENERAL BUDGET FOR FINANCIAL YEAR 2020-21

Gangtok, March 24: (IPR) The second and final day of the Budget session of Sikkim Legislative Assembly began with obituary reference on the passing away of Late Shri Pradeep Yonzen, former Member of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.

Hon’ble Speaker Shri L.B. Das read the Obituary Reference of Late Shri Pradeep Yonzen.
Late Shri Pradeep Yonzen was Member of the Second Sikkim Legislative Assembly. He breathed his last on 10th March 2020 in Siliguri following a long battle with cancer at the age of 69 years.
Late Shri Pradeep Yonzen was born in Kalimpong, West Bengal on 2nd July 1950 to renowned literary figure late Agam Singh Tamang and Upen Maya Moktan. He was survived by his wife Mrs Tshering Doma, a son and two daughters.
Late Shri Pradeep Yonzen completed his schooling from Dr Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong in 1967 and went off to pursue Engineering from Pilani, Rajasthan. After coming back from Rajasthan, he started working as a teacher in 1971 and left the same job to join the Sikkim Excise Department in 1972 and again started teaching in 1975. In the same year, he resigned from the teaching job and joined politics and became a well-wisher of Sikkim Congress led by Kazi Lhendup Dorji. He also worked as a contractor for three years until 1978. He contested election in 1979 from Damthang Constituency as a candidate of Sikkim Congress (Revolutionary) led by Ram Chandra Poudyal and became the first Tamang Member of the Sikkim State Assembly.
After having some conflicts in ideas and visions with Ram Chandra Poudyal, he joined late Nar Bahadur Bandari led Sikkim Janata Parishad party in 1981. Later, he joined the Indian National Congress in 1984 and became Minister, from 11th to 25th May 1984 in the Cabinet headed by Shri B.B. Gurung.
Late Shri Yonzen also served as the Member of the Public Accounts Committee, Estimates Committee, Privilege Committee and Panel of Chairman. He was also the Chairman of Government Assurances Committee and the Life Member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Sikkim Branch).
Of all his various contributions, the ones which are the most noteworthy are the construction of the Blind School in Namchi, Loyola College, a better building for Namchi District Hospital and Alay Gumpa among others. During his tenure, Namchi Senior Secondary School & Namchi Girls School were also upgraded.
Late Yonzen became the President of South District Sports Association, Namchi (1994-98), the Chairman of National Gorkha Federation (formed in Aizwal & Mizoram 2001), Secretary of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (2001-2006) and Secretary in the forum for Constitutional Rights of Tamang and Limboo Community. He also formed the organization like the Sikkim Nepalese Unity (SIKNU) in 1997 and Maitri Sangh, Kalimpong in 2002.
Late Pradeep Yonzan had a passion for arts and literature. He always possessed a true sentiment for his people and community and fought for justice and fairness. He always stood by the poor and the needy ones and helped them in their upliftments.
The Hon’ble Speaker said that the passing away of Late Shri Pradeep Yonzen is an irreparable loss to our state and community as a whole. He extended his deepest condolences to his family and offered prayers to the almighty to give strength to the bereaved family.

The House observed two-minutes silence as a mark of respect to the departed soul.

During the Question Hour that followed, all the starred and unstarred questions were laid on the table of the House.
During the Legislative Business, all the seven Bills introduced by concerned Minister-in-Charge of various departments on the first day of the budget session were passed by the House.
On a question raised by MLA Smt Raj Kumari Thapa about the need to bring about an amendment in the FRBM Act, 2010, Hon’ble Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department, Government of Sikkim, explained that the Amendment Bill was framed in view of the decision of the Government of India to allow additional borrowing to the State as a onetime dispensation in the current year 2019-20 to offset fiscal hardship due to shortfall due to shortfall in actual receipt of Share of Central Taxes.

Subsequently, the Second Supplementary Demands for Grants for Financial Year 2019-20, which was presented by the Hon’ble Chief Minister on the first day of the Session, was passed by the House. Likewise, the Sikkim Appropriation Bill, Bill No. 3 of 2020 for the Second Supplementary Demands for Grants for FY 2019-20, which was introduced by the Hon’ble Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department, Government of Sikkim, was passed by the House.

This was followed by a discussion on Motion of Thanks on the Hon’ble Governor’s address and General Budget 2020-21.
The discussion on Motion of Thanks on the Hon’ble Governor’s address and General Budget 2020-21 was participated by Hon’ble MLAs Shri D.R Thapa, Shri Y.T. Lepcha, Smt Raj Kumari Thapa, Shri Pawan Chamling, Shri Tashi Thendup Bhutia, Shri Sonam Tshering Venchungpa, Shri Pintso Namgyal Lepcha and Smt Farwanti Tamang.

In his reply to the discussion on Motion of Thanks on Hon’ble Governor address and General Budget 2020-21, Hon’ble Chief Minister, also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance Department, Government of Sikkim, said that the proposed budget is Sikkim-centric, rural-centric and youth-centric. He added that the Budget has laid special emphasis on youth-centric schemes, especially for the skilled youth in the form of Skilled Youth Startup Program for which Rs. 25 Crore has been earmarked in the proposed budget. He said that capable and skilled youth will largely benefit from this scheme.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister mentioned about the recent initiative of the Government to launch the ‘Sikkim Film Policy’ in the presence of renowned national and international filmmakers, producers and investors. He said that the Film Policy will enable national and international filmmakers to explore the scenic locations of Sikkim to shoot their films. He announced that the Government has allocated a substantial budget for the purchase of film shooting equipment. He further said that the Government will provide an incentive to regional, local and large budget filmmakers from outside the State who shoot their films in Sikkim and use local artists and crew.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister spoke about the Government’s decision to provide an incentive to farmers who produce a high yield of milk and other agriculture and horticulture products.
He also highlighted the initiatives planned for the education sector in the form of international, national and local level training and capacity building for teachers, as well as exposure and educational tours for students. He also mentioned the plan to introduce moral science and mental health programmes in schools. He also informed about the ‘Foreign Employment Training and Recruitment’ programme of the Government aimed at opening up vistas of opportunity for youth who wish to work abroad.
Speaking about Social Welfare initiatives, the Hon’ble Chief Minister informed that from henceforth, old age pension for each age group will be enhanced by Rs. 500 and will be provided on a monthly basis. Likewise, he informed that any married woman who loses her husband and becomes a widow will be entitled to the widow pension, regardless of her age. In the event of her choosing to remarry, she will automatically lose the entitlement for widow pension, he informed.
Underlining the special privilege envisaged for women, the Hon’ble Chief Minister informed the House that all enlisted women contractors will be exempted from TDR for any contract work up to an amount of Rs. 5 Crore, and 50% exemption in TDR for any contract work between Rs. 5 Crore to Rs. 10 Crore.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister also announced that from henceforth, registration for all power projects with a generation capacity below 5 Mega Watt will be granted to interested youths of Sikkim who have the technical and financial capacity to run it.

In his reply to the question raised by Hon’ble MLA Smt Raj Kumari Thapa about the limited role of MLAs in their respective constituencies, the Hon’ble Chief Minister stated that the Government has not issued any notification to restrict the role of MLAs. He said that MLAs should rather work as a bridge between the common people and the Government and submit the people’s demands and aspirations to the Government on a regular basis. He added that the present Government is highly receptive to representations made by MLAs in matters pertaining to their constituencies, and is quick to provide the necessary support.

Replying to Smt. Thapa’s question about the status of allotment orders for CMRHM housing scheme issued during Janta Mela 2019, the Hon’ble Chief Minister stated that the Government has not issued any directive to cancel the allotment orders. He, however, stated that the Government will ensure that only genuine beneficiaries are entitled to any housing scheme. He said that upon verification if anyone is found to have flouted the criteria for entitlement, the Government will be compelled to cancel their order. He informed that the budget allocation for Sikkim Garib Awas Yojana has been considerably enhanced. He also shared that the plinth area of each house has been enhanced to 678 sq ft. He reiterated that only genuine beneficiaries will be awarded a house under the scheme.

Responding to her question about the preparedness of the State in the wake of Covid-19, the Hon’ble Chief Minister informed that the State Government is fully prepared to face the prevailing situation. He said that the Government will come up with a solution to help daily wage workers in this time of crisis.

Replying to a question put forth by Hon’ble MLA Shri D.R Thapa about the Government’s stand on the Limboo Tamang seat issue and the proposal for tribal status to the 11 left out communities, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said that the State Government is fully committed to resolving these two issues. He said that the Government will organize a public debate and deliberation on the issue of Limboo Tamang seat reservation, and the outcome of the debate will be submitted to the Government of India for consideration. About the Tribal status to the 11 left out communities, he said that the State Government will initially request the Central Government to grant ‘Economically Weaker Section’ status to the left-out communities, and subsequently pursue the demand for Tribal status.

Replying to Shri Thapa’s question on the Government’s initiatives to tackle the issue of drug/substance abuse, the Hon’ble Chief Minister informed that the Government is coming up with a drug rehabilitation infrastructure in Kichudumra, South Sikkim, with an investment of Rs. 9 crores 40 lakhs, slated to be completed by March 2021. He shared that the Government is highly concerned about the issue of drug/substance abuse and is contemplating methods like dialogue and discussion with the drug user community to come up with a concrete solution.

Responding to the question on COVID-19, the Hon’ble Chief Minister informed the House that Rs. 2 crores 92 Lakhs has been transferred to the Health Department from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to deal with the current situation. Speaking about establishing a testing lab for Corona Virus in the State of Sikkim, the Hon’ble Chief Minister shared that he had a word with Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan yesterday, who shared that it would take over two months for the testing paraphernalia to reach Sikkim. The Hon’ble Chief Minister shared that an alternate arrangement was requested for, and the Union Health Minister has assured for a testing facility in Siliguri at the earliest possible.

Responding to points raised by Hon’ble MLA Shri Pawan Chamling with regard to the State Government’s preparedness for Covid-19, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said that the State is equipped in all ways to handle the current situation and any exigency thereof. He informed about the initiative of the Government to fly back 58 students studying under the scholarship scheme in various parts of the country, and have them quarantined. He further informed about the State Government’s correspondence with the Union Home Secretary yesterday with regard to 70 students studying in Tamil Nadu, with a request to keep them safe with the requisite facility. He also shared that the Government of Sikkim is ready to share the economic burden with the State of Tamil Nadu to ensure that these students are lodged safely. He appealed to the people of Sikkim to abide by the precautionary protocol and instructions to be followed for their wards travelling back to the State from other cities and towns. He further said that the Government has been proactively ensuring thorough screening and scrutiny of anybody travelling into the State from the two border check-posts at Rangpo and Melli. He informed that manpower has been increased in these check-posts, and NGOs have been requested to lend their assistance.

Replying to the question raised by Hon’ble MLA Shri Pintso Namgyal Lepcha with regard to a recent case of the Oncology Centre at STNM Hospital turning down a request to administer Chemo Therapy on a patient, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said that he has taken serious note of this and thorough investigation will be done to find out if there were any lapses. He stated that stern action would be taken against the concerned officer or staff if found guilty. The Hon’ble Chief Minister reiterated that the Government has laid the highest priority on the health sector, and all efforts are being made to ensure the best of facilities to the people of Sikkim. He said that at times of crisis, genuine patients are granted travel assistance from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Replying to points raised by Hon’ble MLA Shri Y.T. Lepcha, the Hon’ble Chief Minister stated that the present government is sensitive towards the needs and aspirations of all government employees.

Replying to points raised by Hon’ble MLA Shri Tashi Thendup Bhutia, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said that the Government will deliberate over the creation of an ‘MLA fund’ to empower them and facilitate development at the grass-root level. Responding to the question about inviting CBI into Sikkim, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said that the Government is ready to invite the investigating authority. He said that the decision will be taken in its appropriate time.

Responding to points raised by Hon’ble MLA Shri Sonam Tshering Venchungpa, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said that the Sikkim Panchayat (Amendment) Bill will abolish the party-based system in Panchayati Raj Institutions and will usher in true democracy in grassroots governance. Further, the Hon’ble Chief Minister shared the enhancement in the Health budget to suggest that the Government is laying the highest priority to the health sector.

Replying to the question raised by Hon’ble MLA Smt Farwanti Tamang, the Hon’ble Chief Minister said that though emphasis has been laid on empowering the skilled and trained youth through a start-up programme, unskilled youth will be imparted skill and capacity building training through the Skill Development Department to prepare them for skill-based jobs.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister thanked all the Hon’ble MLAs for their participation in the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on Hon’ble Governor’s address and Annual General Budget 2020-21.

Thereafter, the Motion of Thanks on the Hon’ble Governor’s address was put to vote and passed by the House.
The Financial Business saw presentation and voting on Separate Demands for Grants of all the Government Departments for the financial year 2020-21.

Thereafter, the General Budget for the State for FY 2020-21 was put to vote and was passed by the House.

Likewise, the Sikkim Appropriation Bill, Bill No. 4 of 2020 for the General Budget of 2020-21, was also passed by the House.

Hon’ble Speaker Shri L.B. Das presented the following Reports in the House:
i. Appropriation Accounts 2018-19, Government of Sikkim
ii. Finance Accounts (Volume I & II) 2018-19, Government of Sikkim
iii. Annual Consolidated Audit and Review Report on the Accounts of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Municipalities for the year 2018-19
iv. Separate Audit Report on the Accounts of Sikkim State Legal Services Authority – Legal Aid Fund for the year ended 31st March 2018
v. Separate Audit Report on the Accounts of State Trading Corporation of Sikkim for the year ended 31st March 2018
vi. Separate Audit Report on the Accounts of Sikkim State Electricity Regulatory Commission for the year ended 31st March 2018
vii. Separate Audit Report on the Accounts of Sikkim Power Development Corporation Limited for the year ended 31st March 2018
viii. Medium Term Fiscal Plan for Sikkim 2020-21 to 2022-23
ix. Half Yearly Review Report 2019-20 (Review of the Trends in Receipt and Expenditure in relation to Budget 2019-20

Hon’ble Speaker Shri L.B. Das laid the copy of the Rules of the Sikkim Public Records Act, 2017 (11 of 2017), published in Sikkim Government Gazette 329, dated Friday 02nd August, 201, on the table of the House.

The Hon’ble Speaker also presented the Annual Reports of Commission/Departments in the House.

Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri P.S. Tamang in his valedictory remarks expressed his gratitude to the Hon’ble Governor for his address to the House at the start of the Budget Session. He thanked the Hon’ble Speaker and the Assembly Secretariat for conducting the Assembly session even under the highly challenging circumstances due to Covid-19 outbreak globally and in most parts of the country. He thanked the Hon’ble Deputy Speaker, Hon’ble Ministers, Hon’ble MLAs, Chief Secretary, DGP, Additional Chief Secretaries, and all officers for their presence and contribution to the Session.

The Hon’ble Chief Minister announced that the State will be under complete lockdown from the morning of 25th March 2020 to 31st March 2020 as a precautionary measure to contain the current situation. He appealed to the people of Sikkim to support the Government’s decision and adhere to all the directives being issued from time to time.

Hon’ble Speaker Shri L.B. Das in his valedictory remarks thanked the Hon’ble Governor for his address in the House. He thanked the Leader of the House and all the Members for their active participation. Summarizing the two-day Budget Session, the Hon’ble Speaker thanked all the Members for their cooperation to ensure that all the Businesses could be carried out within the available time.

The two-day Budget Session came to a conclusion with the Hon’ble Speaker adjourning the House Sine-Die.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

82 + = 90