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North Eastern Council raises concern on poor utilisation of funds by NE States

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Govt of India will increase outlay, only if we are able to spend, says NEC officials

Shillong, Feb 8: Secretary of the North Eastern Council (NEC) K Moses Chalai on Thursday said the fund absorption capacity in the North East region is not upto the mark.

“Unless they move fast, we also cannot move fast, so it is kind of interlinking somewhere but I would like to say that a lot of effort is being put in and some improvement is there,” Chalai said while interacting with press this afternoon.

Pining hope that the situation may improve, he said, “For instance, the DoNER used to allocate funds more or less than Rs 3,000 crore but this year (with the) Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East Region (PM-DevINE) Scheme, it has come to Rs 6,000 crore. Government of India is realising that we can do better.”

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On performance of NE States, he refrained to make specific comment.

“I shouldn’t take names but all the States are not alike. Improvement is happening and the new fund flow system is not through the state treasury (or) state finance department, it goes directly to the vendor. Now it will depend on the concerned department and the vendor how they can quickly execute the work. I would still say yes it is not alike. It is not fair for me to take names – some of them can do better,” Chalai said.

Talking about Meghalaya, Chalai said, “Some department are responsive, while others tend to drag. I understand the management and monitoring. Meghalaya government has picked up a bit and I believe that they will do better in days to come”.

Financial Adviser of NEC Gaigongdin Panmei, said that the main issue being faced in the NE region is the ability to spend. According to him, the government of India will provide more outlay only if states are doing well with their respective expenditure performances.

“So even if you have the money but if you do not have the ability to spend and spend well and spend it on time, this is one major issue,” he said.

“The availability of budget is dependent on your expenditure performance. We have a review every October and the expenditure performance of each sector is reviewed including the states and based on the expenditure incurred which is related to the physical progress on the ground, the budget is revised every year. So if you do well you will get the budget. I think these are much related issues, you need to perform and then the Government of India will surely provide more outlay if we perform very well on the ground.”

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On the other hand, the NEC secretary admitted that land is also one of the main hurdles while implementing important projects in the region. He said there are projects including a road project where the state government could not resolve the land issue.

Stating that land is a sensitive issue, Chalai however said, “I am also a tribal but we cannot have the same kind of attitude, somewhere the tribal have to learn. It is a sensitive thing. There are regulations, there are protections I am sure because of the need they are there and perhaps we continue to need them but somewhere that balancing has to be good – I mean if you say I want the road but I will not give you the land then sorry it doesn’t happen.”

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