Gangtok, 01 Aug (IPR): The fourth day of Budget Session 2019-20 of Sikkim Legislative Assembly began with the Question Hour.

While replying to the question raised by MLA, Mr Aditya Golay (Tamang), regarding the annual bad debts of State Bank of Sikkim, Minister for Finance Revenue and Expenditure Department, Mr. P.S. Tamang (Golay), stated that as per statement provided by the State Bank of Sikkim, a total amount of Rs. 23.76 Crore has been written off/waived since October 2002 to till date. Records prior to October 2002 are not available.

Year wise break up, names of the persons and companies whose debt and interest has been written/waived has been furnished and submitted on the table of the august house. As on 19th July 2019, total outstanding loans and advance to private individuals and companies is Rs. 1693.22 Crore in 14116 accounts.

He also informed that the total loans and advances and cash credit limit given by the SBS to the Government of Sikkim and Public Sector Undertakings are Rs. 386.40 Crore. The demonetized notes deposited and exchanged in SBS during the period of demonetization was Rs. 70.73 Crore.

Similarly, replying to the question raised by MLA, Smt Sunita Gajmer, Mr. P.S. Tamang (Golay), informed that the Mini Secretariat established at Karfectar, South Sikkim for the convenience of general public is being utilized as the State Level Capacity Building Institute till date.

Likewise, replying to the question raised by MLA, Mr Aditya Golay, regarding the DoPART, the Socio Economic Survey and also about the “One Family One Job” scheme and the beneficiaries selection, the Minister concerned stated that last year an intensive drive was conducted by the cabinet where many applications was received requesting for jobs which was forwarded to DoPART for redressal and to address the grievances.

Due to the pressure in the department, the then Chief Ministers Office directed to consider only those applicants whose family members are not in government service which conceptualized the idea of “One Family One Job”. Also it was informed that no socio economic survey was conducted by DoPART, however, the list of beneficiaries was received from the CMOs which was verified and recommended by the concerned MLAs/Panchayats and Special Branch Personnel based on which the office orders were issued.

As per the records 17,306 candidates were given Office Order under the Scheme, there is no record of total number of candidates who actually joined the service and also who joined are being paid wages or not since the DoPART has already transferred funds to all the departments to pay wages.

Mr. P.S. Tamang (Golay) also replied stating that the Budget 2018-19 did not cover OFOJ Scheme since the concept had not been generated then. The SLA was also not aware of the implementation of the Scheme, so no rules and Acts has been amended. Tentative payment of salary per month comes to around Rs.185, 585,126 and its annual expenditure per annum is expected to be Rs. 2,227,021,512.

Likewise, replying to the question raised by MLA, Mr Bishnu Kumar Sharma, Minister Mr. Samdup Lepcha stated that the Roads and Bridges Department since 2010 has not received any Contingency fund so no expenditure has been made from the fund so far.

Further, he stated that if the question raised by the MLA was about Contingency provision for various projects of the department of expenditure or balance, the written reply will be submitted within a period of one month. The work is now undergoing scrutiny and preparation.

Furthermore, replying to the question raised by Smt Sunita Gajmer, the Minister concerned Mr. Bhim Hang Subba stated that Mabung Singeng is not in the notified markets. Various projects and schemes has been pending on drinking water system in Jorethang and neighboring areas for which the demand and the estimated cost for the maintenance has been submitted.

Similarly, Mr. P.S. Tamang replying to the question raised by MLA, Mr. Aditya Golay, stated for 17,306 appointees under OFOJ, the requirement of funds would be of the order of Rs.222.70 Crore per annum. A sum of Rs. 4.50 Crore was provided in the year 2018-19 for this purpose.

As per the assessment made by the Pay Committee, the total financial liability on account of payment of arrears of revised pay and pension from 01.01.2016 to 31.03.2018 would be approximately Rs.797.00 Crore and other details of current revenues, the annual own tax revenue figures and percentage of total revenue and GSDP of the State from 2009-10 to 2019-20 has been placed before the august house.

During Legislative Business (Bill for consideration and Passing), Mr. K.N. Lepcha, Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge for Law Legal ,Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Department Government of Sikkim moved the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill No.7 of 2019 which has been considered and passed by the House. The Bill had been introduced by the Minister-in-Charge on 29th July 2019.

The statement of object and reasons of the Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill No.7 of 2019 states that it has been considered expedient to bring in amendments in various sections with regard to appointment of Chairperson, appointment of Secretary, officers and staff of Lokayukta for the smooth functioning of Lokayukta.

It is also deemed necessary to insert a new clause (d) in sub section (5) of section 30 regarding removal of Chairperson on the ground of proven misbehavior and also to confer power on the state Government to transfer to the Lokayukta any allegation of corruption pending inquiry before the vigilance wing of the State Government.

The Financial Business saw discussion, voting and subsequent passing of Separate Demands for Grants of various government departments.

The Voting on Demands for Grants under the charge of Hon’ble Minister of Rural Management & Development, Panchayati Raj & Cooperation and Ecclesiastical Affairs Departments was placed. During the discussion, MLA Shri Em Prasad put forward his query on the water shortage at Namcheybong Constituency.

MLA Mr. B.K.Sharma also placed forward his query about the water shortages being faced at Gyalshing, Rhenock, etc., and the sewerage problems faced by the locals around 32 number area. The Minister concerned Mr. Sonam Lama said that the department was making all efforts to find solution to this problem at the earliest and the state government has also put a lot of impetus on the digitization process for the convenience of the general public. The Demands for Grants was then passed by the House.

The Voting on Demands for Grants under the charge of Hon’ble Minister of PWD (Buildings & Housing) and Transport Departments was placed. MLA Mr. Aditya Golay placed a suggestion to the concerned Minister Mr Sanjit Kharel about the relief to be provided for ticket fees of SNT buses to the students and senior citizens so as to give an impetus to the public transport system in the state to which the Minister gave a positive reply and said that it would be taken into consideration. The Demands for Grants was then passed by the House.

The Voting on Demands for Grants under the charge of Hon’ble Minister of PWD (Roads & Bridges) and Cultural Affairs and Heritage Departments was placed. MLA, Mr. Em Prasad, talked about the problem of highway and roads in the Namcheybong area. MLA Mr. Aditya Golay also put forward his concern regarding the fair-weather roads and the problem of protective walls specially faced during monsoon season due to the ill implementation of schemes.

Hon’ble Minister concerned Mr. Samdup Lepcha agreed to all the points placed by the MLAs and said proper implementation of schemes and policies under the previous government has not been undertaken. Proper estimation, planning and execution is required which has been taken into consideration by the present government. The Demands for Grants was then passed by the House.

The Voting on Demands for Grants under the charge of Hon’ble Minister of Water Security & Public Health Engineering and Water Resources & River Development Departments was placed. MLA Mr. G.T. Dhungel placed his concern about depleting drinking water resources in the state and asked if the department had thought of any alternative water sources incase of any crisis in the future.

The concerned Minister Mr. Bhim Hang Subba stated that the department had thought of alternate sources of water and sewerage treatment plant proposal was also in the pipeline, the DPR for which has already been submitted to the concerned Ministries. The Demands for Grants was then passed by the House.

The Voting on Demands for Grants under the charge of Hon’ble Chief Minister also the Minister-in-charge for Home, Finance, Revenue & Expenditure, Development & Planning, Economic Reforms & North Eastern Council Affairs, Administrative Reforms, Training, Public Grievances, Career Options & Employment Skill Development was placed in the House.

MLA Mr. Aditya Golay put forward his suggestion and stated that it would be of a great relief to the general public if Soreng and Pakyong would be made into districts. He also put forth his query regarding the various components of Teesta Urjha and the state share on it. Further he suggested that salary of youths with better uniform provision be considered. MLA Mr. Em Prasad also talked about unemployment and asked the concerned Minister if the government had thought about any measures to tackle it.

Replying to the query put forward by Mr. Aditya Golay, the Minister concerned Mr. P.S. Tamang welcomed the suggestions of Soreng and Pakyong to be made districts and replied in the affirmative.

Talking about the state of affairs and the huge debt when they took over from the previous government, the Chief Minister informed about numerous austerity measures that they have undertaken as soon as they took over the government. Regarding the question about the Hydro-projects, he said that present government had slashed the salaries of all the high profiles of Teesta Urjha and till date the State government had saved at least Rs.3 crore, 45 lakhs from it.

The Chief Minister also announced that they had kept aside money for MR, adhoc, workcharge, etc., in this Budget and that arrears would be given at one go. He also mentioned that his government had set aside money for One Family One Job scheme as well. Reiterating his stand that the government would work for the benefit of the Sikkimese people, he stated that his government would accomplish all the commitments which they had promised for the betterment of the state. The Demands for Grants was then passed by the House.

MLA Mr. Aditya Golay welcomed the General Budget 2019-20 and said that this budget has brought new hopes and aspirations to the Sikkimese people. He suggested that more youth centric schemes be implemented by the government with new avenues for education and job creation. The Hon’ble Chief Minister accepted all the suggestions placed forward by Mr. Aditya Golay.

The Financial Business Budget (Third Stage) saw the voting on General Budget 2019-20 presented to the House by the Hon’ble Chief Minister also the Minister-in-charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department, Government of Sikkim on 29th July, which was passed by the House, today.

Mr. P.S. Tamang, Hon’ble Chief Minister also the Minister-in-Charge of Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department, Government of Sikkim introduced the Sikkim Appropriation Bill, Bill No.6 of 2019 for Annual General Budget 2019-20. The Sikkim Appropriation Bill, Bill No.6 of 2019 was considered and passed by the House.

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